Alibaba has reboots its efforts to popularize its homegrown mobile phone operating system, by leveraging its popular shopping portal and boostings its ecosystem. The new push for its fledgling mobile OS comes seven months after Google, owner of the Android OS, blocked the China debut of a high-end Acer smartphone featuring Alibaba's software.
At a press conference in Beijing Monday, officials from the Chinese e-commerce giant outlined new plans to enlist support from device manufacturers, telecom carriers and software developers, according to a post Monday on its official blog. This will be part of efforts to create an "ecosystem" revolving around the Alibaba OS, originally branded the Aliyun OS, now rebranded the Alibaba Mobile Operating System (AMOS).
Alibaba will leverage its popular Taobao.com shopping portal, by creating a dedicated sales channel for AMOS phones. This is aimed at helping handset makers adopting AMOS phones become more competitive by allowing them to sell direct to consumers, bypassing the costs of conventional brick-and-mortar sales channels.
The company announced five additional Chinese handset makers were launching phones running its mobile OS: KONKA, ZOPO, Amoi, G'Five, and Little Pepper. According to Alibaba, previously only appliance manufacturer Haier and phonemaker Beijing Tianyu have backed the OS so far.
Although the software is license fee-free, it has struggled to attract a marquee manufacturer. The OS's biggest setback came last September, when Acer canceled the launch of a smartphone running the software, reportedly under pressure from Google.
Alibaba's other strategies include subsidizing handset makers by paying them 1 yuan (US$0.16) a month for every AMOS-equipped phone sold. It will also encourage software developers to build cloud-based AMOS applications through a 1-billion yuan (US$161,514,470) program via revenue sharing and other incentives.
Android's dominance has drawn the attention of the Chinese government, which last month issued a whitepaper warning of the Chinese smartphone industry's overdependence on Google's mobile operating system and called for China to develop its own. In the third quarter of 2012, Android accounted for 90 percent of all mobile operating systems in China while Apple's iOS had 4.2 percent of the market, noted Alibaba.