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Alibaba's hopes to capture a bigger slice of the mainland smartphone market with its mobile operating system have hit a snag. Photo: Reuters

Google threat stops launch of Acer smartphone using Alibaba system

Internet giant says it will end co-operation with partner if it pushes new device which runs on operating system developed by Alibaba


Under pressure by Google, Acer abruptly cancelled the launch yesterday of a new high-end smartphone that runs e-commerce giant Alibaba Group's self-developed mobile operating system called Aliyun.

Acer, the world's fourth-largest supplier of personal computers, was scheduled to introduce to the mainland its Aliyun OS-powered CloudMobile A800 smartphone in Shanghai.

A spokesman for Alibaba subsidiary and Aliyun developer Alibaba Cloud Computing (AliCloud) said in a statement: "Our partner was notified by Google that if the product runs Aliyun OS, Google will terminate its Android-related co-operation and other technology licensing with our partner."

Details of the dispute were not disclosed.

Google, the world's largest internet search services provider, is also the developer of Android, which is the most popular mobile operating system used in smartphones.

The AliCloud spokesman called Google's action "clearly unfair to consumers".

"We respect and understand our partner's decision to postpone the introduction of the phone, and are dismayed by the impact this dispute has had on our partner," he said. "We are concerned about the impact on customer access to competitive products."

Alibaba estimated that sales of smartphones based on Aliyun, which was developed as a free mobile operating system by AliCloud, had 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 said smartphone sales on the mainland would rise to 113 million units this year from 72 million last year.

The mainland said its online population had swelled to 538 million by the end of June. It also said that, for the first time, there were more users who accessed the internet on their mobile phones and other devices than personal computers.

In June, Alibaba said it expected to draw other leading domestic and global smartphone brands to adopt Aliyun after forming a strategic alliance with Haier, the world's biggest home appliances manufacturer.

The introduction of Haier Zing, which sells for 999 yuan (HK$1,220), that month followed 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.

AliCloud said it was exploring further co-operation with Haier that would integrate Aliyun to online-ready "smart" televisions and 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", or software applications, on their internet-linked smartphones or media tablets.

Users can store and back up data such as contact information, call logs, text messages, notes and photos to AliCloud's remote data centre. It can be accessed and updated through personal computers and other mobile devices.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Google threat stops launch of Acer phone