Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba is set to spin-out the Aliyun operating system which put it at loggerheads with Google, and invest US$200 million in the new unit, according to reports originating from local publication Xinhau.
Apparently, the news was revealed in an internal email, which was subsequently leaked to the press.
Aliyun, which is based on, but incompatible with, Android, has previously been under the remit of Alibaba’s Cloud Computing unit.
The separation and investment has been seen as a sign that despite its dispute with Google, and the subsequent cancellation of a handset from Acer, Alibaba sees potential from its platform. It is believed to be investing in staff, technology and infrastructure to strengthen the OS.
According to a “source” quoted by IDG News Service, the unit will be headed by Jonathan Lu, Alibaba’s chief data officer, whose tasks will include “meeting with hardware vendors to secure business for the Aliyun OS”.
To date, the platform has been used in a handful of devices, from local vendors Haier and Tianyu (K-Touch), and had passed one million shipments by May 2012 (following its launch in mid-2011).
Availability of a device from a high-profile vendor such as Acer would have bolstered its credentials significantly. However, according to reports, Google stepped in to stop this, threatening to end its relationship with Acer if it went ahead with the launch.
Alibaba’s spat with Google concerns compatibility between Aliyun and Android. While the Chinese company could develop its own platform, similar to Amazon’s work with its Kindle Fire devices, it also appears to be attempting some, but not full, compatibility with Android – hence its dispute with the search giant.
In a blog post, Andy Rubin, Google’s SVP of mobile and digital content, said: “If you want to benefit from the Android ecosystem, then make the choice to be compatible. It’s easy, free, and we'll even help you out. But if you don't want to be compatible, then don't expect help from OHA members that are all working to support and build a unified Android ecosystem.”