There Is A Huge Threat To Apple And Google That You've Never Heard Of

tim cook sad looking down

Photo: Apple

There are two major trends that will dictate the future of the tech industry.

  • By the end of this decade more people will be using the Internet through a mobile device than through their desktop.
  • The Internet is becoming Chinese. Already, there are more Internet users in China than there are in any other country in the world. That lead will only grow. Research firm IDC says China’s market already accounts for 25 per cent of the world’s smartphone sales, more than the US’s 17.5 per cent.

These trends combine to create an obvious reality: Any company that wants to control the future must have a firm grasp on the smartphone market in China. 

Right now, two companies do: Google and Apple.

But, according to a new report in the Wall Street Journal, a third is emerging: Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

Alibaba has created its own smartphone operating system, called Aliyun. Based on Linux, it is different from Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android in that users do not download apps, but connect to them over the Web.

Aliyun has momentum. One top executive at Alibaba tells the WSJ that the number of Chinese carriers compatible with Aliyun phones has grown from one to five in the past year.

At the moment, Android is winning in China and the iPhone is in second.

There is reason to bet on Aliyun, however: It is local, and local tech companies tend to get favourable treatment in China’s highly regulated market.

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