China's Alibaba aims for big smartphone sales of its mobile OS

Alibaba Group's mobile OS had previously clashed with Google

Alibaba Group hopes to make a dent in Google's dominance of China's smartphone market, and has high hopes that handsets running the company's mobile OS will reach sales of 30 million units.

"We targeted for 30 million activated units in the next 12 months or so," said Wang Jian, the company's chief technology officer in an interview on Tuesday. "That's about 10 percent market share of China's smartphones."

The Chinese e-commerce giant wants to popularize its Linux-based Alibaba Mobile Operating System (AMOS) after the OS collided with Google last year. The U.S. search giant contends that the OS is a variant of its Android OS, but built with software incompatibilities. This set off a dispute that has threatened to drive away top Android handset makers from using Alibaba's still-fledgling OS.

"We never knew what the real conflict was," Wang said in an interview at the Global Mobile Internet Conference in Beijing. "We never had a chance to talk to Google directly, and Google never talked to us directly. It's just something that happened. That's it."

Despite the setback, Alibaba in April partnered with six Chinese handset makers to launch five smartphones running its OS. Although none of the handset makers are major names, the company is seeing growing interest from vendors that want an alternative to Android.

"In this business, there is basically no big player or small player," he said. "Everyone could be big if you've got the right product. And even if you are big today, you can be very small tomorrow, like Nokia."

To encourage vendors to sign up with the OS, the company is also subsidizing handset makers with a monthly 1 yuan (US$0.16) payment for every Alibaba OS smartphone sold. The payment is ongoing until a handset makers' phone goes out of use. In addition, Alibaba is promoting the handsets with its online retail sites.

The latest slate of handsets to use Alibaba's OS had pre-orders reaching 30,000 units, according to one of the company's websites for the phones.

"These phone manufacturers have no experience in e-commerce, and they are not branded names in China. So considering that, it's a very big number," he said.

But Alibaba has no plans to go into the handset business, or acquire a local smartphone vendor. Instead, Wang believes the company can effectively partner with handset vendors to offer innovative products. One such vendor, called Green Orange, wants to sell personalized phones to consumers, allowing them to pick and choose what features they want, he said. The completed phone would arrive seven days later.

"We don't just want to make another cheap phone, that's not our goal," he said. "We want to make sure they are quality phones."

China's homegrown mobile OSes made up less than 1 percent of the country's market last year, according to a research division of China's tech regulator. In contrast, Google's Android had an 86 percent share.

Tags Googleconsumer electronicsAlibaba GroupAndroidMobile OSessmartphonesmobile

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?