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Alibaba Mobile OS Ramps Up Efforts to Take on Google, Apple

By Kevin Chen - Apr 16, 2013 at 11:11AM

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China's Alibaba enlists five smartphone makers, aims to financially help customers, developers.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has revamped its strategy around its Alibaba Mobile Operating System (AMOS). Alibaba hopes that new partnerships with device manufacturers, telecom carriers, and software developers will help the OS originally branded Aliyun (Ali Cloud) gain traction. 

Alibaba announced yesterday that five Chinese handset makers -- KONKA, ZOPO, Amoi, G'Five, and Little Pepper -- will launch a total of six phones running Alibaba's software. Alibaba's Taobao.com will create a new channel to sell AMOS phones as part of an effort to make AMOS handset makers more competitive by selling directly to consumers.

To encourage suppliers and customers to buy an AMOS phone, Alibaba announced three incentive plans:

  1. For every phone a customer buys and continues to use, Alibaba will pay the handset maker RMB 1 per month.
  2. Alibaba will encourage cloud-based AMOS applications via a RMB 1 billion program that helps apps makers via revenue sharing and other incentives or rewards.
  3. Alibaba is working with smartphone makers and telecom companies to do away with customer deposits or down payments. Customers' shopping and payment histories on Alibaba's e-commerce platforms will be used in determining credit-worthiness.

Since its launch in July 2011, AMOS has failed to gain adoption, even though it charges no licensing fee for using the software. So far, appliance manufacturer Haier and phone maker Beijing Tianyu are the only ones who have made AMOS phones. Back in September 2012, Acer dropped its AMOS smartphone, under what Alibaba terms pressure from Google.

Last year, China surpassed the U.S. to become the world's largest smartphone market. As of Q3 2012, Google's Android accounted for 90% of all mobile operating systems in China while Apple iOS had 4.2% of the market, according to Alibaba. 

China search giant Baidu and hardware maker Huawei are also tackling the market with their self-developed versions of Android.

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