Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (BABA) is
seeking to challenge Google Inc. in a niche corner of the search
business by working with Quixey Inc. on mobile application
Quixey will help users of Alibaba’s smartphone operating
system YunOS find apps and access content located within them,
the company said in an e-mailed statement today. The company
also started a global developer program in China, to encourage
the integration of its search technology.
Alibaba, China’s biggest e-commerce operator, led a $50
million investment in Quixey a year ago to help develop the
search company’s technology. The new service will allow YunOS
users to find apps based on what they want to do, rather than
the through keywords, said Chief Executive Officer Tomer Kagan.
“There are millions of apps, with millions of
functionalities and billions of pieces of content and people
have no idea what’s out there,” said Kagan. “I should be able
to search all my apps from the same place every time. That’s
what we’re bringing to YunOS.”
Hangzhou, China-based Alibaba, which completed a record
initial public offering last month, has invested in at least 10
companies overseas including chat service TangoMe Inc. and U.S.
e-commerce site ShopRunner Inc.
Quixey’s global program encourages developers to build deep
search into their apps using its AppURL linking standard.
Alibaba began offering a mobile operating system in July
2011 and last year said it would encourage developers to create
apps for the operating system through a 1 billion yuan ($163
million) fund using revenue sharing and other incentives.
Alibaba said five handset makers in China adopted its
mobile operating system, which was known as AMOS, in April 2013.
The company said at the time that it would pay the handset
makers a fee of 1 yuan a month for every phone they sell with
the operating system, as long as the owner continues using the
software, according to the Alizila website, operated by Alibaba.
The system was renamed YunOS and Alibaba said it would
integrate the service into the company’s cloud computing
offerings, according to a filing to the U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission. Yun means cloud in Chinese and can also be
a play on billionaire Jack Ma’s Chinese name, Ma Yun.
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Michael Tighe at
Robert Fenner, Aaron Clark