Alibaba, which held the largest IPO in history after raising $25bn, has bought a minority stake in Meizu, the Chinese manufacturer of Android-based smartphones.
While recent releases such as the eight core Meizu M1note run standard Kit-Kat (with Lollipop to come), it is expected that Alibaba will want to see devices with its YunOS.
Like Android, this is Linux-based, but uses a different Java runtime environment from Android’s Dalvik while retaining quite a bit of the Android open-source framework.
Meizu has also been linked to Ubuntu but there have been no devices yet announced running the Canonical OS.
Mobile is hugely important to Alibaba, which is China’s equivalent of Amazon multiplied by eBay, as more Chinese people now access the internet by mobile than from fixed lines.
“The investment in Meizu represents a significant expansion of the Alibaba Group ecosystem,” said Jian Wang, Chief Technology Officer of Alibaba, in a statement.
Controlling the device and the ecosystem, much like Apple with the iPhone or Amazon with Fire, is key to Alibaba’s strategy of developing both YunOS and taking on the browser, search and apps markets.
While no figures have been given for how much of Meizu Alibaba has bought with its $590m, it has been revealed that it is a minority interest. Alibaba is, however, a powerful ally and an incredible route to market for Meizu – and could be key to building the company as a rival to Xiaomi. ®