* Launches mobile operating system and smartphone
* Tablet using Alibaba's OS to launch in China this year
* Looks to diversify away from core business of e-commerce
(Adds details, quotes)
By Terril Yue Jones
BEIJING, July 28 Alibaba Group launched its
first self-developed mobile operating system and smartphone on
Thursday in a bid to capture a slice of China's rapidly growing
mobile Internet market.
The cloud computing-based operating system, Aliyun, will run
the K-Touch Cloud Smartphone, to be launched at the end of July
in 10 colours, said Wang Jian, president of Alibaba Cloud
Computing, a unit of Alibaba Group.
A tablet PC running the Aliyun OS, which is based on a
customised Android system, will also be launched in China by the
end of the year, Wang told reporters after a presentation in
Handset manufacturer Tianyu will manufacture the K-Touch as
well as the tablet, Wang said.
"Mobile users want a more open and convenient mobile OS, one
that allows them to truly enjoy all that the Internet has to
offer, right in the palm of their hand, and the cloud OS, with
its use of cloud-based applications, will provide that," said
The Aliyun operating system will feature cloud services such
as email, Internet search and support for web-based
applications. Users will not be required to download or install
applications onto their mobile devices, Wang said.
Alibaba Cloud plans to integrate the operating system with
other devices including mobile phones with larger screens and
tablet computers in the coming months.
Wang said the company was looking to launch tablet computers
running Aliyun by the end of the year.
The company is currently in talks with Qualcomm Inc
to develop a lower-end chipset optimised to run Aliyun OS in
lower-end mobile phones, Wang said. The K-Touch phones use a
high-end chipset from Nvidia Corp for crisp display of
Alibaba Group, which is 40 percent owned by Yahoo Inc
, operates China's largest B2B online marketplace,
Alibaba.com , and China's largest online consumer
shopping site, Taobao.com.
Wang said Alibaba does not have sales targets for the
K-Touch. "We are not responsible for selling the phone; we just
provide the system, so there is no hard number," he said, adding
that within 15 minutes of the end of Thursday's presentation,
Alibaba sold 1,000 of the phones on Taobao.
Alibaba will have an English-language version of the Aliyun
OS ready by the end of this year, but Wang could not say when
English versions of the phones and tablets might go on sale.
Nor will Alibaba get into the phone-manufacturing business,
Wang said. "We shouldn't make a phone," he said. "We're not in
that ecosystem, and it's a very good decision not to make a
China, the world's largest mobile phone market, has nearly
907 million mobile subscribers, according to statistics provided
by the three leading telcos in June.
The firm has been busy diversifying away from its core
business of e-commerce into search, logistics and now mobile
computing. Baidu , Alibaba's big Internet rival in
China, has also been diversifying away from its core business of
search into e-commerce and it has hinted that it is developing a
mobile operating system as well.
(Reporting by Terril Yue Jones; Writing by Melanie Lee; Editing
by Jacqueline Wong and Will Waterman)