Date
20 November 2017
Alibaba's Daniel Zhang says his group will help mobile app developers by using e-commerce data gathered over 15 years. Photo: Alibaba
Alibaba's Daniel Zhang says his group will help mobile app developers by using e-commerce data gathered over 15 years. Photo: Alibaba

Alibaba aims to lure more mobile app developers

Alibaba Group (BABA.US) is stepping up its wireless business strategies, hoping to challenge Tencent Holdings Ltd. (00700.HK) and Baidu Inc (BIDU.US) by leveraging its huge e-commerce database and by attracting more mobile application developers onto its platform.

The Chinese firm announced Tuesday its so-called Baichuan Business Plan under which the group will share its wireless resources and provide infrastructure facility services to mobile developers with focus on technology, business and data.

The company will focus on the mainland market and will not split profits with mobile application developers at the initial stage, Ming Pao Daily reported Wednesday, citing Daniel Zhang, chief operating officer of Alibaba.

Tencent has attracted a lot of developers to set up games and lifestyle mobile applications on its QQ and Weixin, also known as WeChat, platform in the past years.

Alibaba will now cover lifestyle mobile applications and directly compete with Tencent again after the former split more profits with developers when it started mobile game business.

Zhang said that Alibaba will provide concise and precise data to developers by leveraging on the e-commerce data of the past 15 years. That will enable setting up mobile applications for smartphones and tablets according to the preference of different users.

Alibaba is not looking for profit in the initial stage and there is no target on the number of developers to be drawn in. However, there will be a clearer profit model after the platform turns mature, the Ming Pao report said.

Apple Daily quoted Zhang as pointing out that even in its Taobao business, “we didn’t emphasis on profit in the first four to five years after the business was launched in 2003″. 

Overseas developers are welcome to use the Baichuan services but the focus will be on the mainland market. The company will also provide offices for qualified developers and work with physical stores to develop online-to-offline (O2O) business.

Alibaba will help developers turn users into income sources, through initiatives such as linking applications to the company’s transaction system, Ming Pao quoted vice president Wang Xiruo as saying.

Zhang added that the Baichuan plan can help lower the development and maintenance costs as developers can leverage on Aliyun’s data storage and protection services.

“They only need to focus on finding users’ need and design the application, and make the application happen through Baichuan,” he said, according to Apple Daily.

Earlier, Tencent had launched an open platform to allow developers to set up mobile applications. To further enhance its O2O business, it invested in internet medical services such as Guahao.com after earlier initiatives with Jingdong.com, Dianping.com and Didi Taxi.

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