Haier Zing smartphone marks Alibaba link-up
Alibaba Group is stepping up efforts to get other leading domestic and global smartphone brands to adopt Aliyun, its self-developed mobile operating system, after forming a strategic alliance with Haier.
The Chinese e-commerce giant's expansion plan took a big step forward yesterday after Haier, the world's largest home appliances manufacturer, unveiled in Beijing its first Aliyun-powered smartphone that will be introduced this month on the mainland.
The new Haier Zing, which will retail for 999 yuan (HK$1,222), follows the high-profile launch in July last year of the initial handset on the Aliyun platform, the K-Touch Cloud-Smart Phone W700 from Beijing Tianyu Communication Equipment.
A spokeswoman for Alibaba said talks are on with a number of other major smartphone brands to integrate Aliyun and eventually bring these handsets to markets outside the mainland. 'Additional co-operative efforts will be announced in the coming months,' she said.
Alibaba estimates that sales of smartphones based on Aliyun, which was developed as a free mobile operating system by subsidiary Alibaba Cloud Computing (AliCloud), have surpassed 1 million units as of May 31 on the mainland, the world's biggest market for mobile phones.
There is still plenty of room to grow in the domestic market, according to iResearch. It forecast smartphone sales on the mainland will reach 113 million units this year from 72 million units last year.
'We look forward to long-term co-operation with AliCloud,' said Haier vice-president Yu Zida. AliCloud said it was exploring further co-operation with Haier that will integrate Aliyun to online-ready 'smart' televisions and various other appliances.
The Aliyun platform's distinguishing feature is its support for web-based software applications, which means users do not need to download or install 'apps' on their internet-linked smartphones or media tablets.
Users can seamlessly synchronise, store and back up data such as contact information, call logs, text messages, notes and photos to AliCloud's remote data centre.
All that information can be accessed and updated across a user's personal computer and other mobile devices.