Open Sesame! Alibaba to Launch Mobile Operating System

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All this time we have been looking at Nokia and Apple as the big giants who are fighting for world dominance in smartphones. Well another contender for the title has emerged.

Alibaba, well know for its e-commerce sites has now ventured into un-chartered but profitable territories.

China-based Alibaba Group is reportedly planning to develop and launch its own mobile operating system to rival Google?s Android platform and Microsoft?s Windows Phone OS.

With roots in online commerce, retail, payment platforms and cloud computing services, Alibaba?s decision to become a smartphone software vendor could benefit the company in its home country as it would be able to provide consumers with known services for its own operating system.


The Alibaba operating system will offer “cloud-based” services such as applications that the user can access on a remote server instead of downloading them to the phone. Users of iPhone and Android handsets usually download apps to their devices. This will mean users of the Alibaba software are even more reliant on Internet access and subscriptions.

The initial version of the operating system will target the China market, but there is nothing preventing it from being used in other markets as time goes by.

There is no indication of which hardware makers will adopt the software. However if Alibaba meets its goals, more of China?s population will use smartphones.

It’s more than likely that Alibaba will tie in many of its existing sites and those of affiliates to the web-based searches and shopping.? Details about the pricing has not been disclosed, but sources tell arabiangazette that it would definitely be lower than other international brands.

Smartphone Market

Many people are opting for smartphones as it allows mobility and less dependence on conventional technology.

Global use of smartphones seems to be on the continuous rise.

According to Frost and Sullivan global smartphone growth continues unabated as global smartphone shipments have increased from 58 million in the first quarter of 2010 to?more than?100 million units in the first quarter of 2011.

Nobeysco Consulting figures below shows that Nokia is still the number one smartphone provider with 24.3% of the market and Apples coming in a close 18.7%.


Vendors  1Q111Q10
Research In Motion14.0%19.1%

The figures seems to be the same in relation to the Chinese smartphones market.

In the first quarter, Nokia Corp.’s Symbian operating system was the most common operating system on smartphones being used in China, with a 59.8% share of the country’s total 113.8 million units,

Beijing research firm Analysys International said. Second-place Windows Mobile had an 11.8% share, followed by an 11.1% share for Android and a 6.1% share for the iPhone.


Alibaba’s move comes as top Chinese search provider Baidu Inc. has hinted it could also be developing a mobile operating system.

Earlier this year, the CEO of leading Chinese search provider Baidu also stated the company has plans to build a lightweight mobile OS. ?Baidu says it aims to develop software that lets users of devices like smartphones perform a wide range of online activities by typing commands into a search box.
Street view was able to speak to some Chinese consumers. The reaction was unanimously favorable.

A college student from Hong Kong told us ?it would be great to have a Chinese OS. One it would have an inbuilt Chinese vocabulary and secondly it would definitely reduce our dependence on U.S. and European manufacturers?.

A business woman from Beijing told us ?I?m happy with my Apple, its nice to look at and easy to use. However if Alibaba or another Chinese manufacturer releases a Chinese smartphone, I will definitely switch.? When asked the reason she simply stated ?Because it is Chinese.?

With such consumer enthusiasm any Chinese OS provider is greeted with open arms. They would definably wont disappoint consumers either with service or product.

As always the rest of the world is watching the dragon?s growth.

Source: Wall Street Journal, China Daily, Nobeysco, Frost and Sullivan


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