Alibaba’s two online marketplaces, Taobao and Tmall, together handle more total dollar transactions than any e-commerce platform including Amazon.com. In 2012, the two Alibaba’s portals together handled 1.1 trillion yuan ($170 billion) in sales, more than competitors eBay and Amazon combined.
Unlike Amazon, Alibaba doesn’t sell products but makes money through advertising and other services it offers to millions of merchants using its marketplaces.
But more than 90% of those transactions come from PCs. As Chinese consumers increasingly use mobile, Alibaba is trying to figure out how to defend its No. 1 position in China’s rapidly growing e-commerce market.
To better prepare for the rise of the mobile Internet, the WSJ says Alibaba has been trying to gain control over key mobile services and technologies – mapping, social media or operating systems. It has spent about $1 billion in the past several months to buy stakes in an array of services.
“In the future, there will be more competition from all areas of the Internet,” said Alibaba Chief Executive Jonathan Lu, who took the helm in May.
Alibaba’s IPO could happen as early as this year with the value of the company estimated at $70 billion or more.