In an effort to cash in on China\'s growing internet market, Alibaba Group is close to finalizing an agreement that would allow its apps to be pre-installed on China Telecom\'s cell phones. With plans to go public on the anvil, the Chinese internet major could soon be a $100 billion company.
Sources said that an agreement to this effect has already been signed between China Telecom and Alibaba, but officials from both companies did not offer any further insights into the development.
Among the apps most likely to be pre-installed in China Telecom mobile phones are Laiwang, Alibaba\'s proprietary social messaging app and the Taobao Marketplace.
Alibaba isn\'t the first internet provider in China to sign a strategic agreement for pre-installed apps. Other Chinese internet majors—Tencent Holdings and Baidu Inc—have already taken a step in this direction. China\'s leading search engine provider Baidu Inc had inked deals with smartphone manufacturers to pre-install a variety of its apps.
Pre-installed Alibaba apps are mainly being targeted in the 3G subscription smartphone manufactured by China Telecom. The tie-up will help Alibaba reach out to a wider audience and capture a larger share of the Chinese internet market.
The strategic tie up is aimed at consolidating Alibaba\'s position in the internet market before it goes public at the end of 2013 or by mid 2014. The initial public offering by Alibaba is estimated to be $15 billion.
According to estimates by Morgan Stanley, China\'s internet market—currently fuelled by the demand for mobile gaming, e-commerce and online advertising—could reach $ 30 billion by 2015.