Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba may soon have its apps pre-installed on contract mobile phones sold by China Telecom, Reuters reports, citing an unnamed source.
Such apps include shopping site Taobao Marketplace and Alibaba’s social messaging service Laiwang, as the company seeks to extend the reach of its mobile apps for fear of lagging behind its competitors including Tencent and Baidu, which have been investing heavily in mobile.
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Alibaba reached a strategic agreement with China Telecom over the weekend that did not touch on specifics, other than saying that it would concern the foundations of communication services, mobile Internet, cloud computing and data centers.
An Alibaba spokesperson declined to comment to us on Reuters’ report and said there isn’t any additional information to add at this point.
According to Xinhua, the two firms said they would be providing more software and hardware products to cater to small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as government and corporate clients. Both also teamed up to launch an Alipay Credit Guarantee program, in which consumers can get their phones without having to pay a single cent upfront via Alibaba’s payment service.
China’s Internet giants have been working closely with Chinese operators as they seek to tap on a wider audience. Pre-installing Alibaba’s apps on the smartphones being offered via China Telecom — which include Apple’s latest iPhone 5s and 5c — could raise the awareness of the existence of its apps and help boost its mobile efforts.
For example, Laiwang is an app that is lagging severely behind Tencent’s WeChat messaging app. WeChat has collaborated with China Unicom to launch a joint SIM card that includes an independent data package for WeChat.
Headline image via Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images