Google Pressures Acer To Drop Alibaba’s Android Rival Aliyun
Indignant Alibaba says its Linux-based cloud OS is very different from Android
Alibaba Group,China’s largest e-commerce company, has accused Google of bullying Acer into cancelling the launch of a smartphone running Aliyun, a Linux operating system optimised for China, that competes with Google’s Android.
Last week, Acer cancelled the launch of a smartphone running Alibaba’s Aliyun, a mobile Linux version tailored to the Chinese market. Google says that Aliyun is a forked version of Android, offering similar functionality, but incompatible with most Android software – something it says Acer would be forbidden to deliver as a member of Open Handset Alliance (OHA).
Alibaba – an e-commerce and search giant whose combined transactions are larger than eBay and Amazon combined – has denied these claims, saying that Aliyun OS is an independent platform not related to Android.
Google flexes its muscle
Aliyun OS, reportedly 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.
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, reports the BBC.
“Our partner received notification from Google that if the new product with Aliyun went ahead, Google would terminate Android product cooperation and related technical authorisation with Acer,” Alibaba’s Cloud Computing unit said in a statement.
Acer currently sells 14 smartphones and three tablets running Google’s Android system, including the successful Iconia range. Earlier this year, the company launched the first non-Apple tablet capable of displaying full 1080p HD video – the Iconia A700, based on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
Google has accused Alibaba of ‘weakening the Android ecosystem’ by creating the incompatible Android spin-off. As a member of OHA, Acer had “committed to building one Android platform and to not ship non-compatible Android devices,” so the launch event had to be cancelled, the company said in a statement.
“The fact is, Aliyun uses the Android runtime, framework and tools. And your app store contains Android apps. So there’s really no disputing that Aliyun is based on the Android platform,” wrote Andy Rubin (pictured), Google’s senior VP of mobile and digital content in a post on Google+ on Saturday.
“If you don’t want to be compatible, then don’t expect help from OHA members that are all working to support and build a unified Android ecosystem,” he added.
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. “They have no idea and are just speculating. Aliyun is different,” John Spelich, Alibaba’s vice president of international corporate affairs told CNet on Saturday in response to Rubin’s blog post.
“Aliyun’s runtime environment, which is the core of the OS, consists of both its own Java virtual machine, which is different from Android’s Dalvik virtual machine, and its own cloud app engine, which supports HTML5 web applications,” he added.
“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.”
“It is ironic that a company that talks freely about openness is espousing a closed ecosystem,” Spelich said in an earlier statement to Wall Street Journal.
The company said it is planning to release more Aliyun-based phones this year and next year.
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