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Alibaba buys a £387 million stake in a Chinese smartphone maker

Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant bought a minority stake in Chinese smartphone maker Meizu.

The deal is reportedly worth $590 million (£387.8m).

Alibaba already owns a custom YunOS for mobile phones.

The company’s CTO said Alibaba has plans to bring more mobile technology to the market.

"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 Wang Jian, Chief Technology Officer of Alibaba Group in a press release.

Meizu is a company based in Guangdong, has some 1,000 employees and manufactures mobile phones for the Chinese market. At this point, it’s of no competition to the big Chinese three: Xiaomi, Huawei and Lenovo.

"Meizu only has about 1 percent of the China smartphone market today, and in fact has been gearing up to use YunOS since October 2014. So it's not like this changes things for Alibaba overnight, nor is it a silver bullet in terms of making YunOS instantly more widespread. One has to wonder whether other device vendors are lined up in the pipeline for YunOS," said IDC Asia analyst Bryan Ma, cNet reports (opens in new tab).

"Although, Meizu does have its own cult following of loyal fans." Ma said. "And it is one of the up-and-coming local Chinese vendors to keep an eye on, even if they are still in Xiaomi's shadow."

Alibaba will now put its YunOS operating system on Meizu’s smartphones, currently running Android OS with Meizu's Flyme OS skin.

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.