With markets in the US and China shrinking and India’s prospects brightening, Apple Inc is the latest technology giant to look at harnessing the talent pool in the country.
The most valuable company in the world, which has its headquarters at Cupertino California, has opened a centre to develop its web mapping tool, Map, in Hyderabad. It will employ about 4,000 people, making the centre the largest outside its headquarters.
For global technology companies, India is the only lucrative market where they can find such high-quality talent in large numbers.
For Apple, India could potentially offset the falling sales of its iPhone. Also, the country is among the top markets for smartphones and telecom, making it important for Apple to crack.
“I think the reason why they have chosen India is because the talent is also there and the consumer is also there. It makes sense for them to tap into a talent pool in the market where the consumers are also likely to be of importance. I don’t understand why they gave it (India) importance so late,” said Debabrat Mishra, senior client partner, Korn Ferry Hay Group.
Apple’s closest competitor, Google, has had a presence in India since October 2004 and currently employs about 7,000 people in the country across several offices.
Today, the company’s Android mobile operating system powers over 85 per cent of the quarter-billion smartphones in the country.
Google, along with other large American technology giants such as Amazon, IBM, Accenture, Oracle, Cisco, Intel and Honeywell, employ close to 250,000 people in India. Out of these IBM, Accenture and Oracle have especially large operations in the country with 100,000 employees, 65,000 employees and 31,000 employees, respectively. IBM is the largest IT vendor in India, outwitting local giants in winning clients both in private and government sector.
“India is the only country where you can see a pipeline for young talent 15-20 years from now,” said an executive at a large multinational firm. “It also helps this and China are the only economies that are growing”
The Indian units of these companies almost never serve just the local market, but service global requirements, similar to what Apple is planning. Google’s team in India is working on projects to tap the next five billion, using the country as a base to test its products.
The low-cost talent definitely helps as well as the technology sector’s maturity to support innovations at a global scale.
Hyderabad, the city which Apple picked to setup its map development centre is also home to The National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) that processes maps and images transmitted by India’s earth observation satellites, while there are over 50 small enterprises that support the mapping technology industry, making talent readily available. Amazon and Microsoft also have base in Hyderabad as well as in Bengaluru, the country’s tech hub..