China's Alibaba to launch mobile operating system

July 22, 2011
China's leading e-commerce company Alibaba said Friday it will launch a mobile operating system, joining industry giants Google and Apple in providing software for smartphones.

China's leading e-commerce company Alibaba said Friday it will launch a mobile operating system, joining industry giants Google and Apple in providing software for smartphones.

The group will also unveil its first smartphone at the launch, to be held next week in Beijing, spokeswoman Florence Shih told AFP by telephone from Hong Kong.

The smartphones, expected to cost between 2,000 yuan ($309) and 3,000 yuan, will offer a number of "cloud applications" along with pre-installed mapping and , she added.

Cloud services allow users to access applications or store their data on remote servers instead of on their personal computers or handsets.

Sales of smartphones in China grew to 19.91 million units in the first quarter of 2011, up 4.8 percent from the previous quarter, according to Beijing-based research firm Analysys International.

However, industry experts expressed scepticism about the prospects for a new entrant to an already crowded market dominated by Google's Android operating system, Apple's iOS and the Symbian platform developed by Nokia.

"It would be challenging for the smaller operating systems to expand in a quite stable market at this moment," said Li Muzhi, a Hong Kong-based analyst with Mizuho Securities.

"If they (Alibaba) want to be successful, they have to make it an and have some features that not only benefit the users but benefit the manufacturers."

Alibaba said its smartphones would be made by domestic handset maker Beijing Tianyu Co and powered by chips from US tech giant Nvidia.

The company is also in talks with manufacturers to develop tablets with the mobile operating system, spokeswoman Shih said, without disclosing the identities of the company's potential partners.

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not rated yet Jul 22, 2011
Every major company wants their peice of the action. But I think this is going to be a huge waste of resources and time that could be better spent improving on current technology. Android is just becoming a stable OS after two years of heavy development and WP7 is hardly out of the box. We don't need nor want more diversity with smartphone os's and apps, we need improved stability and perfomance gains with what we have.
not rated yet Jul 22, 2011
Well said, evermore. It seems silly at this point. But I must say that Android is very unstable to me and others that I know. Ofcourse iOS has the advantage of standardized hardware to run on, which makes it more stable. I just dont see what they are going to create, if it is made just for a certain set of phones then it will probably work great, but what about app markets? App compatibility? Certainly developers will not want to create apps for yet another phone OS. I think this is too little too late.
not rated yet Jul 23, 2011
I'd be reluctant to accept anything not completely open-source. China makes headlines regularly as a suspected source of cyber-espionage. Imagine the mischievous uses to which a smart-phone could be put.

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