Google flexed its corporate muscles last week, when it “persuaded” Acer to postpone the launch of its latest smart phone, the Acer CloudMobile A800.
September 14 was the day Acer was scheduled to launch the new version of their Cloudmobile A800 smart phone. Developed exclusively for the Chinese market, the award winning Cloudmobile A800 smart phone is unique in the fact that it runs on an Aliyum OS developed by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, rather than the standard Android OS used by Acer’s other devices. It was set to go on sale the next day. But when journalists showed up for the event in Shanghai they were refused entry and told by Alibaba spokespersons that the launch had been cancelled by Acer.
This is what Acer had to say: “Regarding the abrupt cancellation of yesterday’s press conference with Alibaba in China, Acer expresses deep regret and sincerely apologizes for the inconvenience caused to our media friends. Acer will continue working with its strategic partners in China to create improved product and service offering, and looks forward to sharing the results of our win-win developments in the near future.”
Alibaba has a different take: “Our partner received notification from Google that if the new product launch with Aliyun went ahead, Google would terminate Android product cooperation and related technical authorization with Acer.” It should be noted that Acer uses Android operating software to power more than 90% of its smartphones.
Google’s reaction, while heavy handed, is understandable; China is becoming the world’s largest smart phone market and Google’s Android dominates the market. Initially they declined to make a statement on the matter. Later, they had this to say: “Compatibility is at the heart of the Android ecosystem and ensures a consistent experience for developers, manufacturers and consumers. Non-compatible versions of Android, like Aliyun, weaken the ecosystem. All members of the Open Handset Alliance have committed to building one Android platform and to not ship non-compatible Android devices. This does not however, keep OHA members from participating in competing ecosystems.” Apparently, Alibaba says the CloudMobile A800 is not Android, while Google claims that it is, leading Alibaba’s VP of international corporate affairs, John Spelich, to ask “Will someone please ask Google to define Android?”
Acer, a leading manufacturer of desktop PCs and laptops, has been busy developing new products such as tablet computers and mobile devices like smart phones, diversifying its product line due to slower than expected sales on PCs. The CloudMobile A800 represented Acer’s attempt to grab some of China’s ever growing smart phone market.
The CloudMobile A800 smart phone attracted a lot of attention earlier this year when it received the prestigious International Forum Design of Germany’s 2012 iF design award at the Mobile World Congress exhibition in Barcelona, Spain. The phone is cased in an elegant aluminum chassis with metal bands on the top and bottom edges, with a soft-grip plastic battery cover. The CloudMobile A800 measures 9.9mm in thickness and weighs approximately 125 grams. Some of the phone’s many advanced features include a 4.3 inch HD screen with a resolution of 1280 X 720 and a 178 degree viewing angle; 1GB of RAM; a Dolby Mobile 3 audio engine, HDMI output, noise-canceling technology, and an 8-megapixel camera that is able to take photos and videos in low-light situations. It’s aimed at the higher end market, with a price tag of 2,999 Yuan (about $474.00 USD), which would make the CloudMobile A800 one of the most expensive smart phones on the Chinese market.
Developed by AliCloud, a subsidiary of Alibaba, the Aliyun OS is designed to bring cloud functionality to mobile devices, synchronizing and storing call data, text messages, and photos in the cloud, allowing users to access their data on other devices, including PCs and tablet computers.
The CloudMobile A800 would have been a major step forward for Alibaba, which has had a slow start for its operating system. Sales of its Aliyun-powered smart phones amounted to more than 1 million handsets since its launch in July of 2011 – a relatively unimpressive figure in a market with smart phone sales of 72.1 million last year and a projected 113 million for this year.
Part of the problem may be due to some provocative comments made earlier in the week by Alibaba’s Chief Strategy Officer, Zeng Ming. “We want to be the Android of China and we have quite a lot of new partners in line,” Ming explained to the Chinese tech site Sohu IT, and added: “If I were a mobile phone vendor and my only choice is Android, I will be quite scared. Any company will want to have at least two suppliers.”
Acer says they still want to put out a smart phone that utilizes the Aliyun OS system. They believe the Aliyun OS system will provide a better user experience than Android in the Chinese market. And although a leader in PC and laptop products, Acer has been lagging behind other manufacturers, like Samsung, in the smart phone market. The Alibaba partnership would have benefited both companies.
It now looks as if the CloudMobile A800 is history. But Acer reportedly has more products planned for release that use the Aliyun OS. Will they actually release these products or will they bow to pressure from Google? Only time will tell.
Jeff Vance is a freelance writer and Internet Content Specialist for ScreenTek Inc., a company that specializes in providing OEM replacement laptop, iPad and iPhone screens to customers all over the world.
- China Has Blocked Gmail App And Android Market
- Dell All Set to Launch First Handset in China
- Top 5 Smartphones to Look For
- Acer Appoints Adnan Siddiqui as Brand Ambassador for Acer Pakistan
- Baidu Launching its Own OS,'Baidu Yi' to Compete With Android!
- Google Postpones Cellphone Launch in China
- China Mobile Makes 3G Arrangement With Businesses