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Alibaba OS-powered handset launching this month

The mobile operating system is called Aliyun OS and will be running on the K-Touch Cloud-Smart Phone W700 by the end of this month.

Another mobile operating system will be launching in China this month.

Dubbed Aliyun OS, the operating system has been developed by Alibaba division AliCloud. According to the company, the mobile operating system will launch in the Chinese market on the K-Touch Cloud-Smart Phone W700 by the end of this month. Hangzhou, China-based Alibaba did not say exactly when the device will launch or how much it will cost.

AliCloud's operating system revolves around the idea of bringing cloud functionality to the mobile platform. According to the company, Aliyun will feature cloud-based e-mail, Web search, weather updates, and GPS navigation tools. In addition, the operating system will synchronize and store call data, text messages, and photos in the cloud for access across other devices, including PCs. Alibaba says it will offer customers 100GB of storage at launch.

Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Alibaba was planning to launch a mobile OS. Though details were slim at the time, the Journal's sources said the operating system would allow users to access applications from the Web, rather than download apps to their devices.

In a statement today, AliCloud president Wang Jian said that by offering Web apps on its platform, developers have many more options to deliver worthwhile experiences to users.

"Introducing cloud apps to mobile devices not only brings a whole new user experience, but also greater ease for third-party mobile software developers who will be able to use Internet technology such as HTML5 and JavaScript to reduce the complexity in the app development process," Jian said.

The fact that Alibaba is getting into the mobile OS space is somewhat surprising. The company has developed software in the past, but its core business is e-commerce.

Regardless, the company will have some serious work to do if it wants to cement itself as a player in the Chinese mobile market. According to China-based research firm Analysys, Symbian owns nearly 60 percent of the mobile market in that country. Android and iOS are also vying for market share.

If AliCloud's mobile operating system sounds familiar, there's good reason for that: Mozilla is planning something similar with its Boot to Gecko project. The organization announced earlier this week that it wants to develop a mobile operating system that uses the Gecko engine, which powers its Firefox browser. Mozilla said its future operating system will have native Web apps running smoothly on the platform, just as applications for iOS do on the iPhone.