Alibaba and telecoms operator China Telecom will begin selling budget mobile phones specifically tailored for m-commerce to rural Chinese people.
The mobile phones are called ‘Tianyi Taobao shopping handsets’ and will be installed with either Taobao’s mobile shopping app or the YunOS mobile operating system, according to Alibaba’s ecommerce news website Alizila.
YunOS is Alibaba’s own operating system and the Chinese ecommerce giant took a $590m (£387.7m) stake in smartphone manufacturer Meizu Technology Corp at the beginning of the year in a bid to expand the mobile operating system.
The budget mobile phones will be available in a range of models and prices from several different manufacturers rather than just Meizu, which only has a 2% share of the Chinese market.
Customers will be eligible for four months of free 2G data service and will be able to purchase products from Alibaba’s Taobao Marketplace at discounted rates.
Phones will be available to buy online and at China Telecom’s 15,000 physical stores across rural China.
Prices will range from $48 (£31.62) to $113 (£74.45) and the devices are being targeted at residents in third- and fourth-tier cities and rural areas.