Huawei dangles developer incentives to sell Harmony OS around the world

Plus: Indonesia's four-hour takedown demand; Peak Facebook in Korea?; Alibaba frees font; and more.

Asia In Brief Huawei last week unveiled initiatives to encourage developers to work on its Harmony OS – the platform it created after US sanctions denied the Chinese giant access to Google's Android operating system.

A series of posts on Huawei's Chinese social media accounts detailed events staged last week to announce incentives to code for the OS and assistance for targeting offshore markets. Chinese outlet PingWest reported the events saw Huawei detail programs valued at $200 million in incentives, and that attendees were offered tips on how to target users in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific.

Huawei recently announced its 2022 H1 results, admitting "our device business was heavily impacted" – presumably by the twin impacts of China's lockdowns slowing sales and manufacturing even as global uncertainty sees consumers restrain spending, plus the company's products being less attractive to consumers as the absence of Android makes them non-standard.

Targeting developing markets therefore makes sense for Huawei, which surely recognizes that Harmony OS and devices that run it won't succeed anywhere – even in China – without a mighty collection of apps.

– Simon Sharwood

Indonesia mandates four-hour content takedowns

Indonesian officials plan to enforce recently adopted strict content moderation laws by fining offenders as much as $33,000 per violation if content deemed questionable is not removed in as little as four hours' time, reported media outlet Rest of World. Fines will be determined based on gross revenue, type of content, compliance rate and other factors. Companies will typically be given 24 hours to comply with takedown requests. However, for matters deemed urgent, companies will only be granted four hours.

The details were leaked to the outlet after the government provided detailed presentations to tech giants with operations in the country.

Tech companies privy to the presentations reportedly felt the definition of "prohibited content" was too vague.

Indonesia recently required entities to register in Indonesia as a Private Scope Electronic Systems Operator (PSE), making them subject to removing content deemed unlawful.

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology said it may revise the deadlines.

South Korea may have passed peak Facebook

Facebook's tally of monthly active users (MAUs) in South Korea declined by 25 percent over the past two years, according to analyst outfit IGAworks‘a business unit Mobile Index.

MAUs in the country fell from 14.8 million in May 2020 to 11.1 million in July 2022. The numbers were divined using mobile app store data.

An industry source told Korean news outlet Yonhap local youth had moved to another Meta service – Instagram – over annoyance at Facebook ads.

According to Statista, Facebook remains the most used online social network worldwide. Its biggest cohort of users is males between the ages of 25 and 34.

Singaporean food delivery companies form association for gig economy workers

Singapore's three major food delivery platforms – Grab, foodpanda, and Deliveroo – launched an org last Thursday to support delivery drivers and food merchants.

The Digital Platforms Industry Association (DPIA) will "tap on the expertise and experience of its member platform companies to enhance industry best practices and support Singapore's digital economy." It will also provide upskilling opportunities and strengthen health and safety standards among drivers and merchants.

Concerns have been raised worldwide about the plight of gig economy workers. Although this segment of the population proved vital during the pandemic, they were not always fully rewarded with basic job protections such as injury compensation, pension payments, or access to unions.

Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said in August 2021 that the Ministry of Manpower was reviewing measures to improve delivery workers' conditions.

Apple suppliers moving to Vietnam

Apple suppliers Luxshare Precision Industry and Foxconn are in talks to move production of Apple Watches and MacBooks out of China for the first time.

The component manufacturers are reportedly already conducting production tests in northern Vietnam.

Northern Vietnam, particularly the province of Bac Giang, is already a hub for factories that work for big tech – including many that supply components to Apple and Samsung, or assemble their kit.

Meanwhile, China production has been greatly affected this year by repeated Shanghai lockdowns and heatwaves that have led to factory closures and, in turn, supply chain problems.

Bac Giang faced its own lockdowns and factory closures in 2021, thanks to COVID. As of August last year, Vietnam's lockdowns appear to be a thing of the past.

UPDATE: The reports hit just as Foxconn has signed an MOU with Quang Chau Industrial Park in Bac Giang to lease 50.5 hectares to build a factory. The factory is expected to employ an extra 30,000 workers and cost around $300 million in investment.

India blocks YouTube channels said to monetize disinformation and national security threats

India's government last week blocked eight YouTube channels "for spreading disinformation related to India's national security, foreign relations and public order."

One of the channels was Pakistani-controlled. The other seven were operated within India.

"The purpose of the content published by some of these YouTube channels was to spread hatred among religious communities in India," states a government announcement. "Examples include fake news such as the Government of India to have ordered demolition of religious structures; Government of India to have banned celebration of religious festivals, declaration of religious war in India, etc. Such content was found to have the potential to create communal disharmony and disturb public order in the country.

"The YouTube channels were also used to post fake news on various subjects such as the Indian Armed Forces, Jammu and Kashmir, etc. The content was observed to be completely false and sensitive from the perspective of national security and India's friendly relations with foreign States."

– Simon Sharwood

Japan to dangle tax breaks for infosec improvements

Japan will reportedly offer tax breaks to defence companies that make basic improvements to their information security regimes by introducing technologies such as antivirus software and two-factor authentication.

Nikkei reports the incentives are needed to reduce the likelihood that Japanese defence companies leak information that could compromise the nation's armed forces.

– Simon Sharwood

Alibaba translates house typeface

Alibaba has translated its in-house typeface into three additional scripts: Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

The e-commerce giant launched the typeface – named Alibaba Sans – in 2019, and claims it's been downloaded over four million times since.

The font is free to use "for private and commercial purposes" according to Alibaba's announcement of the extended font family.

Alibaba Sans font

Alibaba Sans. Click to enlarge

– Simon Sharwood

In other news …

Our Asian coverage from last week included news that South Korean president Yoon Suk Yeol issued a widely anticipated and publicly supported pardon for Samsung vice chairman Lee Jae-yong, in hopes the chaebol can keep the country's economy going.

Beijing has released information about the algorithms employed by the nation's biggest tech companies – including Alibaba, Tencent and ByteDance.

India's military announced it will adopt locally developed quantum key distribution (QKD) technology that can operate across distances of 150km.

In Australia, Apple was ordered to repair a MacBook Pro that displays all the symptoms of FlexGate – the syndrome of screen defects that the company has previously repaired for free. Apple does not acknowledge FlexGate is an issue in the Mac it was ordered to repair.

A heatwave in PC component hub Sichuan province has disrupted operations and created further potential supply chain issues, as the Chinese government pulls the plug on industrial power.

Microsoft Azure launched a cloud region in Qatar, almost a year later than planned due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Philippines government ordered a fraud investigation after an audit showed a program to acquire laptops for educators overpaid for inferior products.

Alibaba's financial services company, Ant Group, thinks it has created a decent alternative to MySQL called OceanBase.

Chinese drone maker DJI and Chinese robodog company Unitree robotics both denied their products were designed or sold for military use. Meanwhile, Russian military praised DJI for modernizing warfare, and Unitree products were spotted at a Russian Army forum.

Open source media player VideoLAN publicly questioned why its website was banned in India.

Australia's High Court overturned the 2020 decision that search results pointing to news stories make Google a publisher, meaning search results cannot be considered defamatory after all.

Researchers have found that Chinese DNS resolvers fail two thirds of the time when handling IPv6 address queries. IPv4 queries fail at a rate of one in eight.

South Korea has cracked down on unlicensed foreign crypto businesses, citing risks of personal information and hacking as well as money-laundering risks.

Vietnam mandated big tech and telecoms companies store user data locally, and control that data with local entities. Companies will have around a year to comply. ®

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