Huawei bolsters cloud services as hardware unit falters

Chinese firm reveals $200m investment in its developer programme as it sets sights on Amazon and Alibaba

Embattled Chinese telecoms giant Huawei is pivoting towards software and cloud services in a bid to attract more developers.

The firm launched six new cloud products over the weekend, further expanding its ambitions to take on the likes of Alibaba, Amazon, and Google, according to CNBC

The six cloud products include containers, artificial intelligence (AI) programming assistants, databases, computing services and infrastructure software. Each was launched at the company's three-day developer conference in Shenzhen, which has cloud, AI and open source as its main theme.

The announcement also included a $200 million investment in Huawei's developer programme, which aims to boost its software ecosystem and cloud services. 

Huawei's cloud efforts have paid off, according to Canalys Research, with revenues jumping 168% year on year in 2020. However, the firm is still far behind the likes of Amazon and Alibaba in China. Huawei Cloud is currently the second-largest player in China with a 17.4% market share, compared to Alibaba's 40%, according to Canalys.

"By 2025, 100% of enterprises around the globe will be utilising cloud technology,"  said Richard Yu Chengdong, executive director of Huawei. "Cloud is the future of the ICT industry and the foundation for enterprises digital transformation. Developers are the soul of the industry."

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The cloud update comes after a tough year for Huawei, with its hardware unit struggling in the face of US sanctions. Its 5G equipment and services have been shunned in the US and UK over security fears and its smartphone sales have declined swiftly. It is widely believed that the lack of Google services on its Mate and P series of handsets is a big turn off for Western customers - although reports also suggest a decline in China too. 

The firm has been rapidly building out its own operating system, pivoting Harmony OS from an IoT-focused platform to one that can work on high-end smartphones. It is due to be released on Huawei handset in the coming weeks, but it's still in need of development and is a far cry from Android

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