Alibaba stakes a claim for the massive China smartphone market

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China’s Alibaba today outlined a major push for its mobile operating system, which has failed to gain much traction since its 2011 launch. The e-commerce giant announced five new manufacturing partners and said it will dole out monthly subsidies for every smartphone sold running Alibaba’ Mobile Operating System (AMOS). It will help manufacturers sell AMOS phones through its popular shopping site Taobao.com, eliminating the costs of brick-and-mortar distribution. And Alibaba hopes to attract app developers by creating a fund of roughly $160 million for revenue sharing and other incentives.

This is particularly bad news for Google: Android claims about 90 percent of the smartphone market in China, which is now the biggest market in the world and still has enormous room for growth. Google last year claimed Alibaba’s platform was simply a forked version of Android in response to Alibaba’s charge the Google forced Acer to drop its support for the OS. Acer’s status as a member of the Open Handset Alliance prevented it from using any version of Android that isn’t compatible with other Android devices, Google claimed. But Alibaba’s new manufacturing partners are all small Chinese firms who aren’t part of the Android consortium. So it appears there’s little Google can do slow Alibaba’s latest initiative.

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