Chinese giant Alibaba making a 'strategic investment' in smartphones

What do you do when you're the biggest online retailer in the world, with an IPO valued at more than Amazon and eBay, combined? You do all kinds of things, but you also decide to throw some substantial cash into a smartphone maker. In this case, Alibaba says it's buying a minority stake in Meizu for $590 million -- making its recent $10 million investment in OUYA look like spare change. According to a joint statement from both Meizu and Alibaba, it'll help the web giant spread its own mobile operating system (Aliyun) through Meizu's smartphones (keeping the customers coming the Alibaba's myriad services), while giving the phone maker better sales clout and visibility.

China's e-tailing beast hopes that the "strategic investment" will help it compete better with native rival Tencent, who's managed to claim Chinese smartphone screens with its WeChat messenger app. We're just hoping both company took notes from Amazon's not-so-successful efforts to fuse online shopping and a smartphone.