New tipping point: Chinese mobile cloud Vs Google Android
Smartphones are generating new battlefields between those who want to service applications through the cloud and those that wish to distribute them through tightly controlled App marketplaces.
Ironically, it is the Chinese who believe their new mobile OS called Aliyun, built on Linux open source, is the true flag bearer for a new generation of cloud computing applications and websites which will run remotely in Alibaba’s cloud and mainly appeal to a Chinese audience (shortly set to overtake the United States as the world’s largest smartphone user base).
The hardware they chose to launch this assault was Acer, who enthusiastically partnered with Alibaba, only to be reprimanded by Google who claimed the Aliyun mobile OS was merely a knock-off of the Android platform, currently governed by the Google-initiated Android Open Handset Alliance (OHA).
Google claims Alibaba, in making Aliyun, “forked” the operating system, which is now no longer compatible with Android and represents a violation of the original terms governing the use and extension of the platform. Acer, Google said, would lose key licensing privileges if it went ahead with the partnership.
“Aliyun uses the Android runtime, framework and tools. And your app store contains Android apps (including pirated Google apps). So there’s really no disputing that Aliyun is based on the Android platform and takes advantage of all the hard work that’s gone into that platform by the OHA. So if you want to benefit from the Android ecosystem, then make the choice to be compatible. Its 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,” said Google.
Alibaba fired back at Google, stating in an email to All Things Digital that “Aliyun is an open source based OS that is also an open ecosystem that allows others to host their mobile-enabled web sites in our cloud and we make those web sites available to users who use Aliyun OS phones. So we are an ecosystem that includes other Internet companies, whereas Android does not because it provides apps through downloads.”
Alibaba said this is the crux of the whole cloud vs. app debate.
“Cloud is open, apps system is closed because it is controlled by the operator of the apps marketplace. So you see: two competing ecosystems, one that’s open through the cloud, the other is closed and restricts users to only the apps that they want you to see.”
According to the New York Times, Alibaba, China’s largest technology company, spent about three years developing the system in a project involving 1,600 engineers and intends on becoming the “Android of China”.
It seems one of the motivations for building the new mobile OS relates to current restrictions around Android in China which prevent it from offering a good user experience due to the limited availability of key Google Apps like search, maps and Gmail.
Alibaba wants to slipstream the new migration of users from PCs to smartphones, of which China will soon hold the greatest amount of handset users.
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