Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group “rebooted” its device platform plans, having failed to generate support for its OS among device makers in its home market.
Indeed, the company’s Aliyun platform is best known for being at the centre of a spat between Alibaba, Google, and device maker Acer.
The move also comes shortly after China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology warned that the country’s mobile industry is “too dependent on Android”.
Device makers who now adopt Aliyun – now rebranded Alibaba Mobile Operating System (Amos) – will be subsidised via an ongoing fee of CNY1 per month for every device using the platform sold, as long as the owner remains an active user.
It was reported earlier this year that the e-commerce behemoth was considering making investments in device makers, to drive Aliyun/Amos adoption.
The company is also looking to drive developer support through a CNY1 billion programme which will “funnel funds to apps makers through revenue sharing and other incentives or rewards”.
Although Alibaba charges no fee to licence the platform, it said it has “been unable to attract marquee manufacturers to adopt the OS since its debut in July 2012”.
Previously, only Haier and Beijing Tianyu have offered devices powered by the platform.
This week, six devices were announced by five vendors – Konka, Zopo, Amoi, G’Five and Little Pepper – which run a new version of the OS with a “cleaner and simpler user interface”.
In a refreshingly open post on the company’s Alizila corporate blog, it noted that despite having new vendors on-board, “none are major players in China’s booming smartphone market”.
Alibaba said it is working with device makers and operators so that customers who sign-up for service plans can get hold of devices without paying deposits or downpayments. Credit worthiness will be determined using information including shopping and payment records from Alibaba’s retail websites.
The company has also created a channel on its Taobao.com online shopping site dedicated to Amos devices.
This will help handset makers become more competitive by selling direct to customers, “bypassing traditional brick-and-mortar sales channels and thus reducing warehousing, distribution and other costs in a field where profit margins are razor thin”.