YunOS, Alibaba Group’s cloud-based mobile device operating system, has been included in the Chinese government’s list of software as the only mobile OS that is officially approved for procurement by government agencies in 2014.
The releaseofthe list is expected to have no impact on Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS operating systems, which are installed on thevast majority of smartphones sold in China. But Chinese government officials in the past have expressed concern that the country’s booming smartphone industry is overly dependent on Android, and the addition of YunOS, which was developed domestically by Alibaba Group’s cloud-computing subsidiary, to the procurement list could be viewed as a show of Beijing’s support for its domestic software industry. The list also included little-known China-developed operating systems such as Deepin, SPGnux, NeoKylin, NFS China and Ubuntu Kylin—as well as Microsoft Windows—but Alibaba’s is the only mobile OS on the list.
It remains to be seen if inclusion will provide traction for YunOS, which debuted in 2011 as the first mobile OS with a cloud-computing architecture allowing users to run applications and store data on the Web instead of relying solely on the processing and storage power of their mobile devices.
Pan Aimin, Chief Software Architect at Alibaba YunOS, said the company would work to beef up the ability of the OS to be integrated with the computing systems of government agencies. “For YunOS, being on the list naturally means broader access to the government and enterprise markets,” Pan said. “To satisfy the requirements of potential clients, YunOS will team up with more partners to offer complete solutions to government agencies and enterprise users. A strong capacity for integration and adaptability to complex hardware infrastructures is expected.”
He added the company continues to work with app developers and hardware manufacturers so that the OS would be able to run on a variety of microprocessors. The software system is already being used in a smart TV set-top box sold by Alibaba and the company recently partnered with SAIC Motor Corp. in a development effort that will include the OS in an Internet-enabled car.
Alibaba has said that more than 20 Chinese electronics manufacturers have built smartphones running on YunOS. But sales numbers of Yun phones have never been disclosed, and the company has been unable to sign up big-name manufacturers since the launch of a top-end Acer smartphone running the OS was cancelled in Sept. 2012 under pressure from Google.
Google maintained the Alibaba OS, which shares a Linux lineage with Android and can run many Android apps, was an incompatible version of Android. Under its licensing agreement with Google, Acer risked losing its right to install Android on its mobile devices if it went ahead with the launch.