Alibaba’s UC browser is currently the most popular mobile Web browser in India and Indonesia, according to industry sources. In addition, Alibaba recently opened a new office in Melbourne, Australia and established an e-commerce and logistics hub in Malaysia for further market expansion. The company has conducted R&D in the Silicon Valley for long, too.
Alibaba has made investments in various companies. The examples include WayRay headquartered in Switzerland and developing augmented reality (AR), Magic Leap headquartered in the U.S. and developing the same technology, Thai and Indian fintech companies Ascend Money and Paytm, and Indonesian online shopping company Lazada. Alibaba is also working with Honda to develop connected cars and recently acquired shares in Xpeng Motors, an electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer.
In October last year, Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma announced that he would set up research institutes around the world by investing one billion yuan for three years to come. Specifically, the DAMO academies for research on artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), quantum computing and so on are scheduled to be set up in seven cities in China, the United States, Russia, Israel and Singapore.
“Alibaba is currently one of the largest e-commerce platforms in the world, but it has been pointed out by many that its business area has been limited to the Chinese e-commerce market,” said Sun Moon University professor Yoo Seung-ho, continuing, “The chairman’s announcement in October last year implies that Alibaba is aiming to increase its presence in the global arena while finding new growth opportunities.”
Alibaba is making efforts in the South Korean market as well. Chairman Jack Ma takes part in the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics next month and Alibaba sponsors the Olympics. The company is going to promote its cloud service at the Olympics. Alibaba is aiming to become one of the largest players in the global cloud computing market within three years.
Alibaba already entered the South Korean cloud computing market by forming partnerships with KT, SK C&C and so on. “Alibaba’s cloud service is competitive in terms of price and its technological strength has been proven in the Singles’ Day event, when Alibaba handled hundreds of millions of payments at the same time,” said a local IT firm, adding, “These days, an increasing number of South Korean companies are opting for the service, to the point of being comparable to Amazon and Microsoft, although the use of the service used to be rather limited in the past to South Korean companies doing business in China.”
Alibaba’s AliExpress is already very popular with South Korean online shoppers. Last year, the total value of transactions made via AliExpress more than tripled from a year earlier and exceeded that of Amazon. Alibaba is also preferred by non-South Korean consumers wishing to purchase South Korean products. Hyundai Logistics and CJ Korea Express are cooperating with Alibaba in this market.
Alibaba’s payment system Alipay currently has more than 30,000 affiliated stores in South Korea alone, including major duty-free shops and department stores. Alibaba invested 200 billion won in Kakao Bank and Kakao Bank is providing Alipay-based services. Moreover, Alibaba invested 35.5 billion won in SM Entertainment for cooperation in online music distribution and so on.
Under the circumstances, more and more of those in the industry are presenting positive predictions about the global business of Alibaba. For instance, MKM Partners analyst Rob Sanderson mentioned that Alibaba is expected to reach a market cap of US$1 trillion in 2020 ahead of American companies like Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook.