Google could stop Acer from showcasing Aliyun based device, but what will be the case when it comes to device manufacturers outside of OMA? There are quite a few Chinese device manufacturers that ship mobile devices based on Aliyun and a few more are about to join the bandwagon. From Google’s perspective Aliyun is an Android fork and its adoption will cause fragmentation of Android which will not be good for the end users in the long term, but will Google be able to curb the spread of the Chinese Aliyun Mobile OS in China ?
Moving aside from the ethical tug of war between Alibaba and Google, let’s have a look at the technical aspects of Aliyun, which set it apart and work in favour of Aliyun especially in China .
Cloud Based Apps the Key Differentiation
Better Services As Compared to its Counterparts in China
Aliyun makes up for the limited Google services for Search, Gmail, and Maps I in China with its own services and beats Apple with its nominal pricing. Aliyun handsets are preloaded with around 20 cloud based apps such as bar-code scanner, Internet search, weather updates, mapping/GPS navigation and more. Alibaba also provides a free storage space of 100GB to all users having Aliyun based devices on the Ali Cloud.
Aliyun has the backing of Alibaba, the world’s largest online business-to-business trading platform for small businesses. Alibaba plans to pump $150 million per year into the development of Aliyun. Aliyun will definitely be able to find many non OMA device manufacturers to produce Aliyun based devices at least for low end phones. Aliyun already has production support from Tianyu Communication Equipment Co and Haier and 3 more vendors are likely to extend support by end of the year 2012.
Third Party App Development
Aliyun provides ample app development support. The app developers can opt to develop cloud apps over their own servers or choose to use AliCloud’s infrastructure and open platform services at a nominal cost to develop apps for Aliyun. The services that AliCloud can offer are application hosting environment, relational database services, Open storage services and a load balancing service which would prove very useful for app developers.
Advantage with anything Chinese made in China is it has mass appeal from all segments of the society in its home country. 1 million downloads of Aliyun OS in a year is actually not that bad. What is wrong on Aliyun’s part is piracy of Android apps and Google services. The Aliyun store hosts a lot of pirated Android mobile apps. Aliyun’s ability to support Android apps seamlessly on Aliyun based devices are a clear indicator of the fact that that it must be using Android run-time, framework and tools as argued by Google. Google insists that Aliyun OS is allegedly derived from Android, but is incompatible with the overall Android ecosystem, including apps. Google would not mind Aliyun if it irons out the differences and takes a step towards making Aliyun compatible with Android.
But Aliyun does not agree stating that Aliyun is quite different from Android. It incorporates its own VM different from Android’s Dalvik VM. Aliyun OS’ run-time environment consists of its own virtual machine and its own cloud app engine which supports HTML5 web applications. Aliyun OS does use some of the Android application framework and tools (open source) merely as a patch to allow Aliyun OS users enjoy third-party apps in addition to the cloud-based Aliyun apps in their ecosystem.
The heat is on between Google and Aliyun, the course of events will be clear in time to come. But one thing is clear that Aliyun does have the potential to rule the niche segment of low end mobile handsets in China as it offers something more to the Chinese end users when compared to Google and Apple. What do you think? Do chip in your comments. Image Source [os.aliyun.com]