Google Didn’t Kill off Alibaba’s Smartphone OS, New Phone Hardware Due Soon

A Lephone-made device

A Lephone-made device. Will one soon be a vehicle for Aliyun OS?

China’s Alibaba, the nation’s biggest e-commerce business, might have suffered the indignity and hassle of having its flagship phone launch scuppered by Google in September of last year, but its smartphone OS is not dead.

Rumors circulating on Chinese-language tech blogs today suggest that Alibaba’s Aliyun OS will appear on a new flagship handset soon, possibly before Chinese New Year at the start of February. The new phone is thought to be produced by Shenzhen-based manufacturer Lephone (or maybe its English moniker is Blephone) [1]. That’s not exactly a great brand that’s going to inspire consumers, but there are few options for Aliyun OS now that Google has effectively prohibited its Android partners (in the Open Handset Alliance) from working with Alibaba on new phones.

The anticipated new Aliyun phone will hit all three of China’s carriers, and pack a Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8625 1.2GHz chip under a 4.5-inch screen. It might cost as little as 700 RMB (US$112). Alibaba has not yet confirmed any of this.

But we do know that the e-commerce giant has resolved to push forward its own smartphone platform, and shortly after the Google slamdown the Chinese company opted to spin of its Aliyun mobile OS division and give it $200 million worth of investment.

Aliyun had no new flagship hardware in 2012 after Google persuaded Acer not to launch the Acer CloudMobile A800 in conjunction with Alibaba. But that was only after we’d posted our hands-on with the phone, which eventually never launched with Aliyun on it. The primary options for Alibaba are to either acquire a phone-maker, or pursue partnerships with smaller (and unknown and unloved) Chinese handset-makers.

[Source: 36Kr – article in Chinese]

  1. Not sure who owns the copyright for “Lephone” but it is also used by Lenovo.  ↩
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