An office of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. The company's 7-inch tablet made its debut at the China Mobile Internet Summit in Hangzhou on Monday. [Photo: China Daily/Liang Zhen]
Alibaba Cloud Computing, a unit of the Chinese Internet company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, said the world's first tablet computer running on its proprietary mobile operating system (OS), the Aliyun OS, will hit the market by Dec 31.
Alibaba's 7-inch tablet, manufactured by Beijing-based mobile device maker Tianyu Communication Equipment Co, made its debut at the China Mobile Internet Summit in Hangzhou on Monday.
Wang Jian, Alibaba Group's chief architect and president of Alibaba Cloud Computing, also said the second mobile phone based on the Aliyun OS is ready to go on the market, after the company launched the first Aliyun handset on July 28. He declined to reveal specific prices for either product.
Alibaba has been accelerating its efforts in the cloud-computing field since 2009, when the e-commerce giant established its cloud-computing subsidiary.
On Monday, it set up a 1 billion yuan ($157 million) fund to support cloud-computing startups and developers.
The company was among the first group of Chinese enterprises that will win total funding of 1.5 billion yuan from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
The NDRC hoped to use the budget to encourage the development of cloud computing in China, the Shanghai Securities News reported in mid-October.
Alibaba reiterated that it has no intention of developing enterprise IT solutions using cloud-computing technologies, which may avoid direct competition with global IT solutions providers, such as International Business Machines Corp, Hewlett-Packard Co and Dell Inc.
However, Wang said Alibaba wants to utilize its deep know-how of the Internet and provide better cloud services for a variety of partners. The biggest success so far has been the launch of the Aliyun mobile OS in July. The handsets with the Aliyun OS can integrate Alibaba's e-commerce services, including simpler access and the use of Alibaba.com and Taobao.com.
"We are a challenger not only to the Android platform but also to many aspects of Google Inc's businesses," Wang said.
"Compared with traditional providers of mobile operating system, Alibaba has a better understanding of the Internet. Therefore, we have the ability to add some featured services to our mobile platform," Wang said.
Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group, said recently at a Hong Kong conference that China needs its own mobile operating system to help lower the cost of mobile handsets.
Though it needs time to make the Aliyun OS better, Ma said Alibaba will "pay any price to move on".
But analysts said that Alibaba's OS is unable to be a strong rival for current mainstream mobile platforms because of its small user base.
The US-based research firm Gartner Inc has forecast that more than 90 percent of the global smartphone OS market will be occupied by Google's Android, Microsoft Corp's Windows Phone, Apple Inc's iOS and Research In Motion Ltd's operating system by 2015.
Alibaba Cloud Computing has 1,600 employees, and has opened research and development centers in Hangzhou, Beijing and Silicon Valley. About 3,000 companies and institutions have adopted Alibaba's cloud-computing services, the company said.