Alibaba, one of China’s largest e-commerce platforms, is launching its own mobile operating system. Details on the OS are sketchy, but one in particular leaps out: early reports are that it will rely on cloud-based web apps rather than native ones.
Alibaba has no history in the hardware or OS business, but it does have a history in the one area that seems to count: payment platforms. Frictionless purchasing and the possession of 200 million credit card numbers via iTunes has proved to be the secret sauce that drove developers to create apps for the iPhone, and if Alibaba can come out of the gate with its own easy, built-in payment system, it just might have a chance at attracting application developers.
Just as Facebook appears to be entering the web app fray, backed by its own mobile payments system, Alibaba’s other advantage is that by betting on web apps, its phone can tap an ecosystem that grows larger every time a vendor piles onto it: the web.
The ranks of companies trying to make web apps work also include Google’s Chromebook and web app store. As developers colonize the web with for-pay apps everyone in this space has a powerful incentive to use standards-compliant browsers that can run web apps without modification.
What’s happening, in essence, is that Android and iOS are gaining an entirely new competitor, one whose growth cannot be limited by hardware availability, patent trolls or licensing arrangements: the whole of the web.
This new data poisoning tool lets artists fight back against generative AI
The tool, called Nightshade, messes up training data in ways that could cause serious damage to image-generating AI models.
Rogue superintelligence and merging with machines: Inside the mind of OpenAI’s chief scientist
An exclusive conversation with Ilya Sutskever on his fears for the future of AI and why they’ve made him change the focus of his life’s work.
Data analytics reveal real business value
Sophisticated analytics tools mine insights from data, optimizing operational processes across the enterprise.
Driving companywide efficiencies with AI
Advanced AI and ML capabilities revolutionize how administrative and operations tasks are done.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.