China’s Alibaba to launch mobile OS

Chinese e-commerce leader Alibaba recently announced plans to launch a mobile operating system. They want to join Google and Apple in the market for smartphone software.

According to AFP, the company will also reveal its first smartphone at the launch, which will be held next week in Beijing, Alibaba spokeswoman Florence Shih told them by phone.


The smartphones are projected to cost around 2,000 yuan ($309) and 3,000 yuan and they will include a number of “cloud applications.” They will also come pre-installed with mapping and instant messaging software.


Cloud computing services let users access programs or store their data on remote servers in place of their personal computers or handheld devices.


The sales of smartphones in China have grown to 19.91 million units in the first quarter of 2011, which is an increase of 4.8 percent from the previous quarter, according to Beijing-based research firm Analysys International.


Nevertheless, tech experts have expressed skepticism about the forecasts for a new competitor to an already stacked market controlled by Google’s Android operating system, Apple’s iOS and the Symbian platform from 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 open platform and have some features that not only benefit the users but benefit the manufacturers.”

Alibaba has said that its smartphones would be produced by Beijing Tianyu Telecommunications Equipment Co and driven by chips from U.S. tech giant Nvidia.

The firm is also in discussions with companies to produce tablets using the mobile operating system, spokeswoman Shih said, not revealing the identities of the company’s potential partners.