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Acer to launch smartphone using Alibaba's Aliyun mobile OS

13 сентября 2012

Taiwanese personal computer maker Acer Inc. said Tuesday it will release a new smartphone in China that is powered by Aliyun, a mobile operating system developed by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. that is trying to take on Google Inc.'s dominant Android platform.

The new smartphone by Acer--the world's fourth largest PC maker, which is struggling to compete in the mobile space--is an indication that Alibaba is seeing stronger demand from handset makers for its Aliyun smartphone operating software it launched last year.

The release also comes amid discussions world-wide about possible alternatives to Android, as the technology industry is closely watching Apple Inc.'s patent war against rival smartphone makers using the Google software.

"We chose Aliyun for the new smartphone because of the user experience it can offer," said Dave Chan, general manager of Acer's global smartphone business group overseeing Chinese operations. Aliyun is also easy for first-time users to navigate, he said.

Unlike Apple's iOS or Google's Android, on which apps are installed one the device, Aliyun runs Web-based apps that are stored on remote servers. The system also comes with its own mapping and email applications. Alibaba spent about three years developing Aliyun, which the company unveiled in July 2011. The project involved more than 1,600 engineers, the company said.

Acer said its CloudMobile A800 smartphone, which will go on sale Friday, will be its highest-priced smartphone in China, selling for 2,999 yuan ($473). Acer said it will also release the same handset in other parts of the world other than China, but the ones sold outside China will be powered by Android even though the hardware is the same as the Aliyun-based model.

In China, people who purchase the new phone at Acer's online store on Alibaba's Tmall shopping website will be offered a special promotion deal, Acer said, without elaborating. Acer entered China's smartphone market last year, but has little presence so far.

After Friday's release of the new Aliyun-based smartphone, Acer plans to release another Aliyun-based model next month, followed by a few more next year, Mr. Chan said.

For Acer, which has seen its share price decline sharply over the past two years amid sluggish PC demand, mobile devices will likely play key roles in its efforts to turn its business around."China is definitely important for our smartphone business," Mr. Chan said.

Acer is the third handset maker to use Aliyun. Currently, Beijing Tianyu Communication Equipment Co., whose phones are sold under its K-Touch brand, and major home appliances maker Haier Electronics Group Co. sell smartphones that run on Aliyun.

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Alibaba Group Chief Strategy Officer Zeng Ming said the company expects the number of smartphone makers using Aliyun to increase to five by the end of this year."We want to be as strong as Android," Mr. Zeng said.

For Alibaba, which operates shopping websites Taobao and Tmall, part of the incentive for developing Aliyun came from the expected migration of online shoppers from PCs to mobile devices, Mr. Zeng said, adding that Aliyun could help generate more mobile e-commerce transactions.

While Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Phone is the strongest alternative to Android for now, other lesser-known platforms such as Aliyun are also drawing more attention after Apple's U.S. court victory last month in its patent litigation against Samsung Electronics Co., the world's largest smartphone vendor with a lineup consisting mainly of Android-based devices.

Both Acer and Alibaba see opportunities in China's mobile market, which is not only gigantic but diverse.

According to market-research firm IDC, China is set to overtake the U.S. this year as the world's largest smartphone market. China will account for 26.5% of global smartphone shipments in 2012, while the U.S. will take up 17.8%, IDC said. The Chinese market has room for a broad range of handset vendors, from high-end players like Apple to those selling inexpensive smartphones that cost less than $200.

Still, replacing Android, which powered 68.1% of smartphones shipped world-wide in the second quarter, won't be easy because the Google platform has already build an enormous ecosystem around the world with app developers, some handset makers say."Nobody can challenge Android for the time being," said Luo Zhongsheng, the head of the handset business at China's ZTE Corp., in a recent interview.

Alibaba's Mr. Zeng acknowledged in the interview that it will take time for Aliyun to become a major platform. He said the advantages for Aliyun include, for example, the integration of the online payment services provided by Alipay, an Alibaba affiliate, into the operating system to make mobile transactions easier and more secure.

Acer's Mr. Chan said the company still has a lot of work to do in China, especially in terms of marketing and branding, but it is building foundations for growth by launching Aliyun-based smartphones.


Источник: Total Telecom

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