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Chinese Big Tech firms JD.com, NetEase and Meituan in rush to hire HarmonyOS-based app developers as Huawei aims to sever Android ties

Major Chinese internet companies are scrambling to recruit app developers for projects based on Huawei Technologies' HarmonyOS mobile platform, as the US-blacklisted telecommunications equipment maker expands the adoption of its self-developed operating system and manoeuvres to sever ties with Google's Android ecosystem.

E-commerce giant JD.com, video gaming powerhouse NetEase and food delivery market leader Meituan are among a number of Big Tech companies that have started hiring HarmonyOS app developers, according to online career sites Maimai and liepin.com.

Beijing-based Meituan, for example, is actively recruiting for a number of such roles, including HarmonyOS infrastructure engineer. The on-demand local services provider is offering a monthly salary of between 40,000 yuan and 60,000 yuan (US$5,492 and US$8,238) for app developers "with HarmonyOS experience" and those who can "work on research and development projects based on incumbent [technological] infrastructure".

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JD.com and NetEase, meanwhile, are looking for developers purportedly for specific apps designed for Huawei's smartphones, according to the two job sites.

HarmonyOS, the self-developed mobile operating system of Huawei Technologies, was designed to run on multiple devices to rival Google's widely adopted Android platform. Photo: Shutterstock alt=HarmonyOS, the self-developed mobile operating system of Huawei Technologies, was designed to run on multiple devices to rival Google's widely adopted Android platform. Photo: Shutterstock>

The recruitment drive of these major internet firms bolsters Huawei's strategy to widen the adoption of HarmonyOS as an alternative ecosystem on the mainland, as set out by company founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei this year to counter the impact of US sanctions.

More than 700 million devices currently run on HarmonyOS, with more than 2.2 million third-party developers creating apps for the platform, according to Richard Yu Chengdong, chief executive of Huawei's consumer business group and chairman of its Intelligent Automotive Solution business unit, at the company's annual developer conference in August.

Yu said the next iteration of Huawei's mobile platform, HarmonyOS Next, will involve removing support for Android-based apps on all the company's devices installed with that new operating system. The company is expected to launch a developer preview version of its Next system in the first quarter of next year.

HarmonyOS debuted as an alternative operating system for Huawei in August 2019, three months after the firm was added to Washington's Entity List. Under this trade blacklist, Huawei is barred from buying software, chips and other technologies from US suppliers - including Google apps and services - without Washington's approval.

Google's Android remains the most popular mobile operating system worldwide, commanding a roughly 70 per cent market share as of September, according to data service StatCounter.

Huawei's confidence with its alternative ecosystem strategy on the mainland received a big boost in late August, when the company surprised the smartphone industry with the launch of the Mate 60 Pro smartphone - its first 5G handset since the Mate 40 series was released in October 2020. That was followed around a week later by presales for its top-of-the-line Mate 60 Pro+ smartphone.

The Shenzhen-based company's 5G comeback generated a strong outpouring of public support, as netizens on domestic social media hailed the new 5G handsets and their advanced made-in-China chip as symbolic of the country's victory in defying tough US sanctions.

Huawei, on the back of its popular Mate 60 Pro, became mainland China's fastest-growing smartphone vendor in the third quarter, when the company recorded 37 per cent year-on-year growth, according to an October report by tech consultancy Counterpoint Research.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2023 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2023. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.