Alibaba To Press On With Aliyun Development
Chinese Android rival gets a $200 million investment and its own business unit
Alibaba Group, China’s largest e-commerce company, has announced it will invest a further $200 million (£122.7m) into the development of Aliyun, a Linux-based mobile OS optimised for China.
Earlier this week, Acer had cancelled the launch of a new smartphone running Aliyun, as a result of pressure from Google, which claims Aliyun is a “forked version of Android”.
Throwing down the gauntlet
Aliyun OS, developed by Alibaba’s subsidiary AliCloud over three years, was launched in July 2011 to challenge the dominance of Google’s Android. The operating system is loaded with Cloud-based features local to China, and allows users to access applications from the Web, rather than download them to a device.
As of May 2012, one million Aliyun-powered smartphones have been sold. In comparison, Google recently said that the total number of Android activations has reached half a billion, with 1.3 million happening ever day.
The investment into the controversial OS and its transformation into a separate business unit was announced by the founder and chief executive of Alibaba, Jack Ma, in an internal memo on Thursday, reports Reuters.
Last Thursday, Alibaba and Acer invited journalists to a press event in Shanghai to see the new Aliyun-powered smartphone in action. However, the preview of the CloudMobile A800 never happened, with Alibaba blaming Google for strong-arming Acer into cancelling the launch.
The US search engine giant has accused its Chinese counterpart of ‘weakening the Android ecosystem’ by creating the incompatible Android spin-off. Alibaba has denied its OS has been based on Android, and said the software was never designed to be a part of the same ecosystem.
“Aliyun OS uses some of the Android application framework and tools (open source) merely as a patch to allow Aliyun OS users to enjoy third-party apps in addition to the cloud-based Aliyun apps in our ecosystem,” said John Spelich, Alibaba’s vice president of international corporate affairs.
China’s smartphone market is expected to top the United States as the world’s largest smartphone market this year. Earlier in the week, Alibaba bought back half the stake Yahoo owned in the company for about $7.6 billion.
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