Alibaba’s YunOS is expected to be the second most popular smartphone OS in China, moving ahead of Apple’s iOS after expanding its market share to 14 per cent by the end of this year.

The market leader is Android, with more than an 80 per cent market share in urban China, while iPhone’s share of the smartphone market in the mainland fell to 6.2 per cent in Q3 from 10.3 per cent a year earlier.

YunOS-powered smartphones, thanks to their lower prices, are most popular in smaller cities in China. According to Sino Market Research and Bernstein, adoption of the OS hit 54 per cent last year in tier-4 or smaller cities, compared with just 9 per cent in the tier-1 cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.

Smartphone vendors Meizu, XiaoLaJiao and Doov are the main users of the YunOS, said Strategy Analytics. In February 2015 e-commerce giant Alibaba invested $590 million to take a minority stake in Meizu, giving it a captive hardware platform for its mobile operating system.

Total shipments of YunOS-powered smartphones are forecast to exceed 100 million units, said the SCMP, which is owned by Alibaba.

YunOS also has been designed to work as an operating system for TV set-top boxes, smart TVs, smart home appliances, smart cars and SoftBank’s robot “Pepper” robot.

SoftBank announced more than a year ago it is working with Alibaba and contract manufacturer Foxconn to set up a robot venture to sell its human-like robot globally.