China mobile OS takes aim at smartphone giants

K-touch

Android compatible system has eyes on wider market

A Chinese company is hoping to shake up the smartphone market with a cloud-centric mobile operating system.

Alibaba is the latest to throw its hat in the smartphone ring following the announcement this week that Mozilla is working on a mobile OS.

According to Alibaba Cloud Computing, its Aliyun OS is different from those running handsets such as Apple's iPhone and Google's Android handset, because apps are stored solely on the web, with only content passing between host and handset.

“Cloud apps live in the cloud, which means users don't have to download them and it is easier for the developer to make changes or updates as the end user doesn't have to change anything,” a spokesperson for the company told PC Pro. “The apps on the handset are more like a bookmark.”

The company said Aliyun was being released as an open platform, which was compatible with Android apps, but denied the OS was targeting Android in the fast-growing smartphone market in China.

I wouldn't rule out the idea of the OS making it onto devices made by manufacturers overseas

“The OS runs on our own virtual machine that's based on the Linux kernel and other open tools,” the spokesperson said. “But it is compatible with Android apps, so we're not going up against Google directly.”

According to Alibaba, the OS uses HTML5 and JavaScript to turn web pages into apps, and claims the concept “makes is easy for anyone to create a mobile app”.

And, it doesn't ask developers to handover a large slice of app revenue to the platform owner - 30% in Apple's case - which it hopes will stimulate adoption.

Global potential

The OS was unveiled alongside a software-specific phone, the K-Touch Cloud-Smart Phone W700, which is due to go one sale in China immediately, but the company said it would also be looking to overseas markets.

“We'd be happy to work with any manufacturer to integrate Aliyun into their devices,” the spokesperson said. “I wouldn't rule out the idea of the OS making it onto devices made by manufacturers overseas.”

The company said initial cloud OS users would each get 100GB of storage, with options to expand according to user needs.

Third-party developers can opt to either develop cloud apps over their own servers or use AliCloud’s infrastructure and open platform services.

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