Chinese ecommerce company Alibaba Group announced on Wednesday it has acquired Kanbox, the Chinese equivalent to cloud storage service Dropbox. It is unclear how much Alibaba Group paid in the transaction.
Alibaba hopes that the acquisition of Kanbox will enable it to offer a similar service to Apple’s iCloud for users to access data from any device. The company plans to eventually turn Kanbox into a service that allows mobile users to back up their data, including contacts and text messages, on remote servers.
Mobile users make up about 20 percent of Kanbox’s customer base of 15 million users, which aligns with Alibaba’s focus on expanding its mobile and cloud services.
Alibaba launched its cloud division in September 2009, in order “to build the first platform of choice for sharing data and make cloud computing services more accessible to the public.”
As China has different regulatory requirements than the US, service providers in China are better equipped to meet the needs of consumers and businesses in the country. US-based cloud services, like Dropbox for example, have had issues in the past with Chinese users being blocked from the service. In May 2010, Dropbox users in China were unable to access Dropbox because the Chinese government blocked the service.
According to the Wall Street Journal, earlier this year, Alibaba invested in Sina Corp.’s microblog business, and mobile mapping service provider AutoNavi Holdings.
In July, Alibaba announced a smart-TV OS and set-top box for consumers to shop and pay their bills on their TVs.
With China expected to be an ecommerce powerhouse over the next few years with its growing population and increase in disposable income, enabling consumers to make purchases in a variety of ways will further position Alibaba as a leader in the space. With a focus on ecommerce, Alibaba has several divisions that focus on a particular ecommerce sector in China and internationally; Alibaba.com International and Alibaba.com China provide an ecommerce platform for small businesses; AliExpress is a marketplace for consumers; Taobao Marketplace is a C2C online marketplace in China; Tmall.com is a B2C shopping platform; Juhuasuan is a group shopping platform in China; and eTao is a shopping search engine in China.