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Intel, Alibaba Build Mobile Commerce Platform

US chip giant Intel teamed up with Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba yesterday to build the first mobile commerce platform in China.

Intel will embed mobile modules in its XScale-architecture-based mobile phone chips and supply it to phone makers, so that phone users can trade on the online Alibaba platform.

The first batch of the phones will be released by Motorola and Chinese phone maker Dopoda.

Alibaba will open its customer resources to Intel and promote them to trade via the phones embedded with Intel's chips.

"We want to bring our customers to a mobile platform, so that they can trade both through the Internet and mobile phones," said Jack Ma, chairman and chief executive officer of Alibaba, which claims to be the biggest business-to-business e-commerce company in the world with 5 million users.

Ian Yang, general manager of Intel (China), said the two companies will open their resources to each other to promote the popularization of mobile e-commerce in China.

Ma said his company aims to attract all of its AliTalk users to join the mobile platform in the future.

Alibaba will also encourage the users on its customer-to-customer e-commerce website Taobao.com to trade via phones embedded with Intel's chips.

AliTalk is an instant messaging tool developed by Alibaba. Since its launch a year ago, almost 1 million users have started to use the online communication tool.

Yang said Intel will also push its phone maker partners to embed the software into their phones or bundle it into user manual discs.

The partnership may become a big growth area for the US chip company.

Although Intel has a dominant position in China, its mobile chip business is not very successful.

If the two companies can successfully move AliTalk users to use "Intel-inside" mobile phones, it will be a huge success for the US giant.

Alibaba can also extend its trading platform from the Internet to mobile communications systems to help its customers and increase their loyalty.

Ma said his company, already well established in its home country, will shift the focus to overseas markets from next year.

The company has started a TV advertising campaign on US media including the CNBC TV channel for a year and is expected to spend more than 100 million yuan (US$12 million) to spread its brand internationally.

Ma said Alibaba will not only aim at acting as a platform for foreign businesspeople to do business with Chinese counterparts, but for all businesses in the world.

He said his company, with investment from the Japanese venture capital giant Soft Bank and US firm Fidelity Ventures Far East, will not seek to make an initial public offering this year, but he suggested that Alibaba was now thinking about the matter seriously.

(China Daily September 21, 2004)

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