February 9, 2015 - 13:48 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Alibaba is stumping up more than half a billion dollars to kick its lacklustre mobile phone business into gear. The NYSE-listed e-commerce giant announced a $590 million investment in Chinese phone-maker Meizu, TechCrunch says.
The deal grants Alibaba an undisclosed “minority” share in the Guangdong-based company, which sold 1.5 million of its Android-based smartphones in January, but it is particularly notable for the strategic alliance between the two.
Meizu, which operates a Xiaomi-like online sales model but is yet to break into China’s top five smartphone companies based on sales, will integrate its hardware with Alibaba’s struggling operating system. Aliyun is the business unit behind Alibaba’s Yun OS, which is based on Android and used for smartphones and smart TV sets.
“Alibaba Group will provide Meizu with resources and support in the fields of e-commerce, mobile Internet, mobile operating system and data analysis with the aim of developing Meizu’s smartphone ecosystem,” the company said in an announcement, which also revealed Meizu’s phone will be sold via Alibaba’s range of online retail sites. The investment in Meizu represents a significant expansion of the Alibaba Group ecosystem and an important step in our overall mobile strategy as we strive to bring users a wider array of mobile offerings and experiences,” said Jian Wang, Alibaba’s CTO, in a statement. Alibaba’s past mobile investments have included leading a $280 million round for messaging app Tango, a $120 million deal for U.S.-based mobile games startup Kabam, and a recent $10 million investment in Android games console maker Ouya.