Alibaba to invest in Chinese phonemakers to drive Aliyun adoption

Alibaba to invest in Chinese phonemakers to drive Aliyun adoption

Summary: E-commerce company is reportedly turning to Shenzhen-based phonemakers to drive its mobile OS adoption after Google blocked Android partners from launching devices with Aliyun OS.


E-commerce giant Alibaba is reportedly planning to invest and buy stakes in Chinese phonemakers to drive the adoption of its Aliyun OS mobile operating system (OS).

A Sohu IT report Friday cited unnamed industry sources who said Alibaba planned to launch more than 20 smartphones with Aliyun OS in 2013 and will invest in or buy up controlling stake in one or two Shenzhen phonemakers.

The source said that since the fourth quarter of 2012, high-level executives from Aliyun have been frequently visiting several Shenzhen phonemakers, reported Sohu IT. Apart from discussing issues such as the installation of Aliyun OS in the devices, the executives were said to have reached "concrete discussions" about investments or buying controlling stakes.

Alibaba's move to invest in Chinese phonemakers were supposedly driven by Google preventing its Android partners from launching Aliyun phone.

In September 2012, Alibaba had declared that it wants to be the "Android of China" to provide an alternative to the U.S. company's mobile OS. However, within the same week, Acer had to cancel the launch of a Aliyun smartphone or else Google would end its Android partnership with the Taiwanese company.

According to Google, the Aliyun OS was an incompatible fork of Android. However, an Alibaba executive denied the claim and said Aliyun "is different" from Android.

A week after the tussle, Alibaba spun off its mobile OS team from the cloud computing division, where the Aliyun OS team would report directly to the parent company. The internal memo by chairman and CEO Jack Ma added the group would be investing US$200 million in the development of Aliyun OS.

An Informa Telecoms & Media report December said China was the largest Android market in the world in 2012, with two out of three mobile phones sold there being Android devices. Despite restricted Google services in China, smartphone makers told ZDNet in October 2012 that they replace Google services with local apps and content to ensure user experience is not compromised.

Topics: Mobile OS, Android, Google, Smartphones, China

Liau Yun Qing

About Liau Yun Qing

The only journalist in the team without a Western name, Yun Qing hails from the mountainy Malaysian state, Sabah. She currently covers the hardware and networking beats, as well as everything else that falls into her lap, at ZDNet Asia. Her RSS feed includes tech news sites and most of the Cheezburger network. She is also a cheapskate masquerading as a group-buying addict.

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  • Alibaba looking to shenzhen for oems

    That is all I need to hear about those phones.

    Good luck China.
  • Samsung Spent $800 on Bada OS! Now it's Open Source Tizen!

    Aliyun has no chance of success in or out of China. It's a very quirky OS built on it's ability to run pirated Android Apps. Something Android itself can already do and in China Android Apps aren't bought off Play Store anyway. Instead there are so many App Stores it's ridiculous. A new proprietary version of Android (like Amazon's Android Fork) is doomed in a market right now over run by Android OS devices covering over 80% of the Smartphone Market. If you're a developer even in China, why in the world would you work to make your App run better on a clunky ripped off OS? It runs Android Apps natively. How is that better than Android you get for FREE..... NOW?

    So Aliyun is just Alibaba and their 40 Android Thieves attempting to buy into the Android Market like Amazon did Android. But it's really simply not fully compatible with Android and since it's obviously inferior, why replace FREE OS with a locked in proprietary OS? Lame move Alibaba and you're throwing good money after bad business model. At least Amazon doesn't pretend that their OS isn't Android and at least you still have access to install Apps from Android Play store w/o them being pirated and hacked. With all the malware in China, Chinese are learning to be more careful of the Os and Apps they all choose!

    Aliyun is doomed to failure and the first chance people get to put real Android on their devices, it'll be replaced as fast as people take them home with the Real Thing!!! .....that and Aliyun devices simply won't sell... unless they give them away too!