On November 11, which has become known as a major sales day for China’s e-commerce companies every year, Alibaba Group saw Taobao.com and Tmall.com combine for sales of 35 billion yuan. But the big day has Alibaba feeling anything but festive.
The reason for this is that the company’s chairman, Jack Ma, expects competition to get fiercer as mobile Internet become more popular. And a major potential rival for Alibaba in this new frontier is Tencent Holdings, operator of the popular instant messaging application WeChat. In an email to employees in late October, Ma called on the company to unify its efforts to fend off Tencent and WeChat.
Indeed, amid the growing popularity of mobile Internet, WeChat’s dominance is posing a big challenge to Alibaba, prompting it to switch its focus from standard computers to mobile devices. An Alibaba source said that the company believes that while the war for standard e-commerce services is winding down, the one over mobile Internet is just starting.
Since the beginning of this year, Alibaba made several investments intended to pave its way into the new frontier. It bought stakes in Sina Corp.’s microblogging service, the online map provider AutoNavi Holdings and mobile browser UCWeb.
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