Explained: Alibaba’s Aliyun [Cloud Based Mobile OS]

[Article reproduced from Appnomy, the visibility platform for mobile app developers]

Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba’s newly unveiled mobile OS is creating quite a stir on the Internet and some are hailing it as the next big thing while others are saying it will be a complete dud. Apart from all the news we would like to explain the impact that this OS will have on the already booming smartphone market and we know that when a mobile platform starts to get popular, the app ecosystem gets a huge boost (hint:iOS, Android) and so does the app development market. So here’s the quick news and then an explanation of what all this means for app developers.

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The News:
Alibaba unveiled a new smartphone called the K-Touch Cloud-Smart Phone W700 with their very own mobile OS,Aliyun. Aliyun has been developed over the past 3 years with deep integration with cloud based features.The Aliyun OS comes with 20 “Cloud apps” that access Alibaba company services over the Internet. The apps include Internet search, a barcode scanner to find products online and an app listing group-buying discounts. Alibaba plans to bring one new Cloud app to the OS each day. The OS is Linux based and can not only run Android apps but also web apps built with HTML5 or JavaScript. The operating system will provide each user with 100GB of virtual data storage over the Internet. Photos, contact lists and messages can all be saved in a user’s online account. Alibaba will license the OS for free and is in talks with Qualcomm to produce low cost handsets.

The Explanation:
I think Alibaba is trying to pull off a Google here. An OS that runs Android apps means that Android developers have one more platform to publish their apps to. Blackberry Playbook already got a sneak peak at the Android Player for Playbook in its Beta form. An already open and hugely popular ecosystem of Android will definitely be an advantage for this OS.

Now lets talk cloud, I’m not so convinced about the cloud capabilities of an OS like this. I know that most app downloads happen over the internet but web apps will definitely mean that a whole lot of internet bandwidth will be needed. Free OS is an incentive for small manufacturers to use the OS but if users don’t get to use the cloud functionality that this OS promises then it might fail. Here’s where the Android apps backup plan seems to give Aliyun an advantage.

China is a huge market for smartphones and Alibaba wants to replicate the success that Android and Apple have achieved. India is similar to China when it comes to the mobile market, low cost handsets are becoming increasingly popular and the smartphone market has huge potential for growth. Both countries have a huge number of consumers that are going online from their mobiles and not PCs. This just means that app developers looking to take advantage of another parallel Android market for an entirely new product will have tremendous growth opportunities.

What’s your opinion?

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