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Apple Pulls Out of India 696

Posted by Zonk
from the curious dept.
tanveer1979 writes "Barely 3 months after it commenced India operations, Apple has decided to pull out its software operations from Bangalore. The employees will be given a severance package which is equal to two months' pay. The sales and marketing operations will remain on (these consist of around 30 people) but the software and support will be completely pulled out." From the article: "Apple had set itself a hiring target of 600 by the year-end. After a gala induction ceremony on April 17, the operations team went to Transworks for training. Some of the managers were about to leave for the US for further training when they were asked to stay put."
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Apple Pulls Out of India

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  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Saturday June 03, 2006 @09:29PM (#15464171) Journal

    Last paragraph of the article, from an India employee losing his (or her) job:

    "On May 15, Apple officials addressed us and were highly appreciative of the workforce and the task it would execute in India. I wonder why they never said anything even then," said another fired employee.

    Yeah, there are a lot of U.S. employees familiar with that feeling. Welcome to the global market.

    Personally, I find it just as offensive companies whimsically shift work forces, often at high personal and financial cost to employees caught unawares, whether it be in the U.S. or India. I'd like to say, "see how it feels?", but I find no satisfaction in that. I guess the global economy does apply globally. It really does become about money on ledger sheets, and little about the workforce and impact on people just trying to make a living. Meanwhile CEOs and other execs reap massive rewards, usually with little relationship to how well their company does because of these decisions.

    (That said, the article is far too short on detail to understand exactly what prompted and triggered the change in plans for Apple.)

    • by Clay Mitchell (43630) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @09:31PM (#15464185) Homepage
      heh, if you want to feel small, insignificant and just like a number, there's no place better to go than a Fortune 500 company. I work for a very large bank, and I have absolutely no illusions about what I am to them.
    • by timeOday (582209) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @09:35PM (#15464196)
      But to change course like that after a mere three months? Sounds expensive. There must be a story behind that, and plenty of disgruntled amployees. Who wants to spill the beans? (and get sued [thinksecret.com] by Apple :)
    • by Eric Coleman (833730) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @09:37PM (#15464200)
      I'd like to say, "see how it feels?",

      I'll say it for you then. See how it feels?
    • by bpd1069 (57573)
      Globalization has one real goal, to commoditize the work force. We are just part of a balance sheet.
      • But that will lead to problems for the commoditizers as well. What happens if wage rates (adjusted for productivity) converge across the globe?
        • by AuMatar (183847) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @10:30PM (#15464379)
          They don't give a fuck- they'll make their money in the short term, and damn the long term.

          Of course wage convergence isn't a bad thing- so long as it converges up, increasing the standard of living in the third world while not hitting the first too badly. It doesn't seem to be going that way though.
        • by mellon (7048) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @10:47PM (#15464431) Homepage
          Mass outbreaks of prosperity. Why is this so scary? If wages were pretty much the same in all countries, you would never again have to worry about your job being outsourced, and you wouldn't have to listen to lectures about children starving in China either. Granted, you'd probably be able to afford fewer toys, but I am pretty sure you would not starve to death.
          • by dfjghsk (850954)
            Granted, you'd probably be able to afford fewer toys, but I am pretty sure you would not starve to death. Ah.. well as long as I don't starve.. what else do I need? sounds like a paradise.
            • by mellon (7048) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @10:56PM (#15464467) Homepage
              Can you call a thing paradise if, in order for it to exist, someone else has to suffer? And in fact can you call the life the average U.S. geek lives paradise anyway? I mean, if you're one house payment away from the street and pulling down $120k/year, is that really a desirable situation? It's just crazy.
              • by raehl (609729) <raehl311 AT yahoo DOT com> on Sunday June 04, 2006 @01:28AM (#15464959) Homepage
                If you don't want to be living one mortgage payment from being out on the street, DON'T! Learn to live within your means. Put 25% of your money into your retirement account. Buy a house where you can pay your mortgage payment and then some, or rent a place you can afford. Drive a late model auto. Don't spend $4,000 a year on the latest tech toys. Bring your lunch to work instead of eating out all the time.

                EXCERCISE SOME FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY! If you make $120,000 a year and are one mortgage payment away from being on the street, it's because you're being stupid with your money.
                • by wiggles (30088) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @02:15AM (#15465087)
                  If you make $120,000 a year and are one mortgage payment away from being on the street, it's because you're being stupid with your money.

                  Or, you live in California.
                • by arivanov (12034) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @03:36AM (#15465280) Homepage
                  Ahem. Seconded

                  There are some problems though.

                  95+% of the people around you do not. They think that you are crazy. In some jobs sectors it is consirered to be essential to maintain some "class" and it may be very detrimental to your career to be different. Most of banking, finances and consluttancies are angaged in an endless penis measurement contest and it takes some guts and thinking to avoid getting into it or maintain financial discipline. This is especially true if you are a few steps above the bottom of the corporate ladder, high enough for the penis measurement to be in full swing, but too low to have the finances to afford it.

                  So as a matter of fact, the culture of the industry sector and the employer need to be taken into account when looking at a salary. 50Kpounds in a "plain IT" or "plain Telecoms" in old Blighty are a reasonable amount of money. 50Kpounds in the banking industry or most consluttancies are peanuts. You will either have to stay one payment away from being thrown out onto the street or you will have to cut somewhere on the "perceived class". In the latter case you essentially volunatrily put yourself on the list of the "first ones to go when the times get tough".

    • by Reaperducer (871695) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @10:07PM (#15464307)
      Holy pop-ups, Batman! The article link spawns THREE full-screen pops that even Firefox couldn't stop.

      Back on topic: There was an article in Crain's Chicago Business a couple of weeks ago saying it's hard times for the Indian outsourcing industry because wages in India are on the rise.
      • All blocked by Safari. Maybe your settings are off?
      • by Joey7F (307495)
        Windows XP FireFox 1.5.0.3

        No problems.

        Back on topic, it should be no surprise that Indian wages are on the rise. While there are a billion people not all of them are qualified to take every job.

        Take tech support. If you are answering phones, you can't be merely functional in English you must be completely fluent and familiar with the culture, the idiomatic expressions, and, now, even adopt the American accent. The low hanging fruit has been picked. If you want talented people in India, the word is out, you
    • If it's any consolation, the current CEO of Apple was once pushed aside from the company in pursuit of the balance sheet. ;)
    • by AmericanInKiev (453362) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @12:21AM (#15464774) Homepage
      I think you leap too quickly to the conclusion that moving jobs overseas is moral ambiguous. If companies want to sell in the US - I believe that the people whose lives are on the line to defend the US are entitled to a high priority in the job market. If a company wants to sell in india - that's great - they _should_ give the jobs to locals, but there is a moral right of people to have a place at the table in their own country when their economy is creating the jobs in the first place. If the rest of the World wants a first-rate country - they can follow our lead - create a rule of law - not a theocracy - for example, hold corruption accountable - etc etc, but to move jobs out of the economy which pays for them, while saddling that economy with the other related costs of your business is wrong, and should be discouraged in the strongest sense.

      AIK
      • by ap7 (963070)
        Hmmm.... so when MGM makes movies in Hollywood and shows them in India, am I to insist that all the actors are to be replaced with Indian ones? Should be interesting to see Aamir Khan in that tripe Da Vinci Code instead of Tom Hanks. Maybe Indian actors in all the US and UK TV shows we get here? CNN and BBC also should replace its newsreaders and other staff with Indian ones, eh?

        Or perhaps we should insist that the CKD or SKD kits of cars that are imported should be made by Indians in the US? Boeing passeng
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 03, 2006 @09:29PM (#15464173)
    I guess a cheaper country was found
  • by one-eye-johnson (911152) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @09:30PM (#15464181)
    India and Apple obviously haven't been properly educated about the dangers of pulling out.
  • $40 (Score:2, Funny)

    by Saint Stephen (19450)
    Two months severance pay in India = about $42 and 7 cents

    • Re:$40 (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 03, 2006 @09:43PM (#15464226)
      Two months severance pay in India = about $42 and 7 cents


      No.

      I am a developer in India. All my college buddies are too. Not one of us gets less than $800 per month. And that's the 'entry level' for our number of years(3) in the industry.
      • Re:$40 (Score:3, Insightful)

        by samkass (174571)
        It was meant as humor, and you kind of proved his point. $800/mo would be considered poverty here in the United States-- low enough that if you were a citizen you'd be paying "negative" income taxes on it and getting a couple hundred dollars back from the government each year. And my guess is the folks who answer phones for tech support lines get paid a lot less than that.
    • More like $1166.00. (source: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/wideangle/printable/india 2 _info_print.html [pbs.org]). Still not that much when you think about it. Hopefully companies will stop trying to take advantage of people and pay them what they are worth (I know this is unrealistic). A job is worth $x, then they shouldn't think of how to take advantage of someone to save a little extra. I just wish everyone was a little less focused on maximizing profit.
    • This was modded insightful, so I have to ask -- is that true? If so, why is everything so expensive over here? If someone can live for two months on $40, why not have Wal-Mart buy what someone lives on for two months, ship it over here, and sell it for $80? That's a lot less than what people are paying now.
  • 30 people (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eltoyoboyo (750015) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @09:35PM (#15464193) Journal
    The company had commenced operations in April and hired about 30 people for its subsidiary

    In Silicon Valley, a one cough by a hiring manager can cause 30 people to disappear overnight. Thirty people in India represented less than a million dollars worth of pocket change to Apple. The story in really, "What were they attempting to do in the first place?"
    • The only way 30 people could disappear overnight is if that hiring manager is a corporate officer. Speaking as one who has been in the "hiring manager" role in Silicon Valley for quite some time, it's pretty hard to get rid of people, even poor performers. Yes, California is an at-will state. California's courts, however, have proven to be very pro-employee. So, firing somebody in California usually requires lots of documentation.
    • by harrkev (623093)
      In Silicon Valley, a one cough by a hiring manager can cause 30 people to disappear overnight.
      Is the hiring manager's name "Big Tony?"
  • Irony (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gyrogeerloose (849181)

    When I first viewed the comments on this article, the quote at the bottom of the page was this:

    The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of misery. -- Churchill

    Do you figure that since socialism has gone bust, capitalism has had to take over the sharing of the misery?

  • by coupland (160334) * <<dchase> <at> <hotmail.com>> on Saturday June 03, 2006 @09:39PM (#15464208) Journal

    "On May 15, Apple officials addressed us and were highly appreciative of the workforce and the task it would execute in India. I wonder why they never said anything even then," said another fired employee.

    Seems pretty cold to me. In a lot of developing countries like this a job at a major multinational serves to support not just the family but the entire extended family. No doubt some of these people even had to quit other jobs to join Apple, and can't return. I worked many years for the international division of a large multinational and saw first-hand the culture of abusing foreign workers because management knew they could work them 14 hours a day and the people couldn't say or do anything about it. And since these people are all classified as "professionals" no one can swoop into the factory to blow the whistle, you have to work whatever overtime is demanded of you, for free. Pretty crummy if you ask me.

    • You seem out of touch... Bangalore is one of the main outsourcing centers, and the environemt there is like Silicon valley to the extent of the frequency people switch jobs. Hire someone and then two weeks later they quit with a better offer. This is one of the problems many company's experimenting with outsourcing are having - the super high turnover.

      If you want to feel sorry for anyone, feel sorry for the American developer trying to pay for an American cost living while competing for his job at Indian sa
  • Buzzword (Score:5, Funny)

    by Joebert (946227) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @09:42PM (#15464222) Homepage
    Indian Giver comes to mind, it's funny, I just haven't figured out how yet. :P
  • by elgee (308600) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @09:43PM (#15464227)
    You don't throw good money after bad when you get a losing poker hand. Perhaps they realized that their India operation was a mistake. I suspect that the beans will get spilled eventually.
  • Afraid? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Clazzy (958719) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @09:44PM (#15464229)
    With all this evil alien bacteria [slashdot.org] invading, perhaps it's a good move for the company?
  • by theolein (316044) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @09:55PM (#15464261) Journal
    Despite the HR blurb at the bottom of TFA claiming the Apple India crowd were doing well and all that, I imagine that it was questions of quality that led to the firing of the workforce. Apple's recent Aperture debacle, where it was discovered that Aperture was majorly inferior to Adobe's Lightbox in performance, features and quality probably resulted in a major shakeup in Apple's software development divisions. There have been a number of stories about companies having problems with outsourced software development, and I presume this is another one. My guess is that Apple will probably either increase the size of its Ireland operations or move the development to eastern Europe where the quality is generally known to be good.
  • by Super Dave Osbourne (688888) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @09:55PM (#15464263)
    That the technology transfer was not happening as smoothly as they thought it would, and the costs became an issue too. Having worked for Apple, then NeXT, then Apple/NeXT and finally Apple again, I have seen this problem long before it became fashionable to outsource oversees. It was true stateside between regions of this country, and even more so with language/cultural barriers in this global market. The axe swings many ways, this time back to another country, possibly back to the US.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 03, 2006 @10:05PM (#15464300)
    Most Indian CS majors (not talking about IIT grads here) come out just knowing C#/VB .NET. Its hard to train them to learn Objective-C or any other language they are used to since all of their CS skills are bound to a single language. Go to any job posting in India for .NET and you will get millions of programmers who know everythinhg about .NET. Ask for people who know Objective-C or anything non-Microsoft base, then you will get almost nobody. Its hard to find programmers in India with Mac OS x experiance, or even *nix experiance.
    • no comfort (Score:5, Funny)

      by twitter (104583) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @11:59PM (#15464693) Homepage Journal
      Its hard to find programmers in India with Mac OS x experiance, or even *nix experiance.

      There's no such thing as job security through obscurity.

      It's a joke, laugh.

    • by jma05 (897351) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @04:00AM (#15465338)
      I am an Indian. I agree with the observation but disagree with the generalization. I lot of people I knew in India were indeed strongly oriented to the MS tool chain (not even Borland). I, on the other hand have tried just about every major programming language and most programming paradigms. To put in context, I do NOT have a CS major. I am a physician who programs/sys-admins as a GRA around 20hrs/week to pay for a PhD in the US. But I would have still programmed as a hobby (and have for about 14 years now) even if I did not have this need.

      My reasons for this behavior are ...

      1.) Most Indian developers see programming as a lucrative career. So it is strictly business for most of them. Most devs of this kind don't go home and continue to program for "fun". It's work. If you can't sell your Haskell skills, no point in acquiring them.
      2.) The educational institutions have evolved this way too. Most devs learn programming, not from college (even if they have a CS major) but from independent training centers that train you in job focused skills but not the whole "Computer Science" theory. The training is strictly main stream IT (to emphasize again - not CS). I on the other hand, am a geek, self-taught, learned programming for the sake of programming and even lectured a few Masters classes on Software Engineering and HCI.
      3.) Finally the disagreement. Why generalize on Indians?. Now that I am in US, every non-geek programmer I have seen here is not much different either and is just as hopelessly married to his language. However, US citizens tend to follow their hearts when it comes to profession. The economy allows it. So geek / non-geek programmer ratio is more favorable. In India, you don't have that luxury. People follow the money (for good reasons). They do work hard at the skills but you can only get so much into it if you are not inherently passionate about it.

      If you want good Indian programmers, scope them out and do your own interviews and select them just like you would locally (perhaps only possible if you have an Indian branch for your company). That outsourcing corporation will not cater your non-generic needs.
  • say what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by BigBir3d (454486) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @10:22PM (#15464355) Journal
    Considering the low-cost, high-quality talent pool that Bangalore offers, it is unclear why Apple decided to shut shop just over a month after it commenced operations.

    The person that wrote this has never dealt with Indian tech support I take it.
    • Re:say what? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by EddydaSquige (552178) <jmb&gocougs,wsu,edu> on Saturday June 03, 2006 @11:28PM (#15464579) Homepage
      Your joke has a lot of insight to it. About 3 months ago I called apple care, which used to be the best damed tech support around, and the guy on the other end gave me so much obviously wrong information that I have doubt that knew anything at all about the Mac. On a brand new Quad (I was having monitor problems) he suggested that I didn't have the right video card to run a 23" screen, and suggested I install an older video card that wouldn't even fit in the PCI Express slots. I was flabbergasted at his handling of the problem, he paid no attention when I informed him that his solution would never work. Not only did I file complaint through the normal channels, but my reseller filed a complaint through their Apple rep. Worse tech support experience ever. I've had better service with ISP support.
      • Re:say what? (Score:3, Informative)

        by jcr (53032)
        That's bizarre... You can't even order a quad G5 with a graphics card that won't handle Apple's entire range of monitors.

        -jcr
  • What? (Score:4, Funny)

    by teslatug (543527) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @10:37PM (#15464408)
    Time to move back [unitedmedia.com] to the US.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 03, 2006 @10:40PM (#15464414)
    Many companies are coming back to the US for Software Engineering. Especially mid size companies. The company I work for also recently canceled its dealings with its Indian outsourcing firm. They had two reasons:
    1) In 2001 with benefits, a decent Software Eng:
    $60/hour in USA versus $5/hour in India
    In 2006 with benefits, a decent Software Eng:
    $60/hour in USA versus $25/hour in India
    No longer worth the hassle of communication problems and slow response time to fixing defects.
    2) Quality of their work was awful. This seemed to be due to major attrition problems. The attrition rates at the firm we were using were like 50% a year. Even their manager's were job hoping. So nobody really cared about quality since they knew they would be long gone to better pastures before it caught up with them.
  • by guruevi (827432) <<evi> <at> <smokingcube.be>> on Saturday June 03, 2006 @10:41PM (#15464419) Homepage
    that the cost of outsourcing is higher than the hype tells it to be. A lot of businesses try to outsource to India, and while it might work better for some companies, I guess the cost of a = inferior customer satisfaction and b = more people needed for the same work equals c = higher costs in the long run. And since a is more important for Apple they've seen outsourcing is not a good idea.

    Don't get me wrong over b, I guess there are great people out there, but first of all: they don't speak English very well (ever called an outsourced helpdesk and you know), second of all: they are not educated as we in the westerner countries, so they need to be educated more and longer on the job while we are supposed to get that education through our schools. It's not the inhabitants fault, but India is pretty close to a 3rd world country.

    Next to that they also have a higher constant cost. TFA mentions shipping over some people for education in the states. They can do it 2 ways: ship someone from west -> east and pay big $$$ (250k/year) for someone willing to do that and ship over his family and belongings back and forth every 3-6 months for 30k/year and cover the costs over there for 50k/year. Or ship 20 people every month from east -> west for 2 weeks and cover their costs for 400k/year.

    If you don't do it yourself and outsource your outsourcing to a "specialized" company, you'll see that the costs equal the costs you have here but without the hassle of outsourcing, keeping your customers happy only thing is that you have to keep in account the unions.

    I don't know, while outsourcing could be helping keeping costs down, I think the only thing that should be outsourced is labour by hand without customer contact. This is not because the people over there don't have brains, but simply because of the differences in language and culture. They are trying to fix that too, but what do you think when you call the D-Link helpdesk and "Bob" speaks with an Indian accent and ask how the weather is down there in Ohio? Yes, they have cue sheets with different lines that people in the US would use, but it just sounds wrong, try it.

    And just so I wouldn't break Godwin's law: why didn't hitler outsource his stuff to India?
  • by bealzabobs_youruncle (971430) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @10:49PM (#15464437)
    Indian I.T. contractors who didn't have the real world skills they boast on their resume. I'm not in charge of staffing so I don't know how hard these things are to verify, but I would say we spin out 50% of the non-native contractors we get lately because they simply don't know what they are doing. I've had 5 different Java/J-Boss/Linux pros that have no clue what they are doing, all were from India and all boasted extensive Linux and application server skills, but had never heard of SUDO or what shell script starts J-Boss? Add language barriers in to that equation and it usually isn't worth what we are supposedly saving.

    I know our last 2 contractors had to go through a two week trial period at the agencies expense and we kicked both of them back. We probably get just as many bad American contractors, but the whole point of exporting jobs or importing workers was that we gain talents that aren't available here at a lower price. If their skills and education are all suspect and have to be verified at a greater expense and difficulty than local talent why bother? Apple probably found the same thing.

    • There should be absolutely no language barriers at all. All post-11th grade education in India is English-based (India was a British colony after all). So if your staff is university educated, they should be almost as good as native speakers (albeit with an accent). If not, they suck way more than from a technical standpoint and shouldn't be hired in the first place.
      • I'm inclined to disagree with that. I just finished my M.S. at Rutgers, where the majority of the students in the graduate program were either Chinese or Indian. (The lack of U.S. citizens in a graduate program at a state university where tuition is DIRT CHEAP for state residents and pretty inexpensive for others says bad things about U.S. attitudes towards higher education...) The Chinese students, for the most part, barely spoke English at all and I'm surprised any of them were able to complete their c
  • an employee's market (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 03, 2006 @10:50PM (#15464442)
    From what I hear Bangalore and other India hotspots are quite the employees' markets, much more so than the US is now, and probably not unlike the way things were in the US in the late '90s. That means it's really hard to keep the best employees from taking their training and crossing the street to join your competitor for a 30 percent increase. And all the big US IT outfits are there. Meanwhile you have to make due with a mixed bag of a workforce, some of whom can't really cut the technology (admittedly, this can be true in the US too, but at least you can interview people face to face). On top of that there's the hassle of managing a workforce on the other side of the globe, in a time zone almost opposite to yours.

    So maybe some of that factored into the decision to cut and run. I guess the true story will come out eventually.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 03, 2006 @11:05PM (#15464504)
    This is slightly offtopic, but let me explain the state of affairs on Indian Software Services companies. This is not about product companies which operate here.

    I guess I'll be the only Indian in the world who'd wish this outsourcing boom would settle.

    Why?
    Because we have contributed nothing to computing, technically or in research. This is more about the attitude of Indian software services companies. Infosys, TCS and the like, relegating writing software to a BPO styled operation. Cut and Paste mechanics, unhealthy and ugly code. 95% of coders here plain suck. I really hope software dev automation gets a breakthrough, so these guys lose their jobs (for which they are not qualified anyway).
    These companies are surely helping India with jobs, but they have done _nothing_ for computing. (How many Indian Open Source products do you know!)No contribution to open source, and full scale leeching. Meanwhile, revenue is upwards of $2billion, profits $600 million plus. Yet.

    Damn, I dont wanna think about it.

    Btw, this is not a problem with Indian techies, there are so many of them working in research (abroad and in India) who are really good.

    • Outsourcing (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MichaelSmith (789609) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @01:44AM (#15465012) Homepage Journal

      In industry generally you outsource when you have a large batch of work to do and you don't want to ramp up inhouse. In the software business this generally means finding someone to churn out mountains of code.

      The resulting mountains may look good on the monthly sloc metrics but its not what you want to see as an engineer. If a programmer comes back to me and says he made the required changes and produced negative 200 lines of code I would be happy.

      One reason that a company like apple might decide not to proceed with something like this is that mass production is not really what they are looking for.

      I don't have any problems with India specifically and I think we are going to see more of this situation where the large packages of work, which are less interesting for me anyway, going off shore.

  • by kimanaw (795600) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @11:21PM (#15464556)
    (Obligatory - and very old - SNL reference)

    "A frustrated India was unavailable for comment."
  • New phrase (Score:3, Funny)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @11:46PM (#15464656) Homepage Journal
    "You've been iSourced!"
       
  • by Anthony Boyd (242971) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @01:40AM (#15464998) Homepage
    On May 15, Apple officials addressed us and were highly appreciative of the workforce and the task it would execute in India. I wonder why they never said anything even then," said another fired employee.

    Because employees would react. If they said "we're thinking about closing" or "things aren't working out as expected" then at least a few employees would just bail, or worse. No company wants that -- if there is a chance to salvage the situation, then they would prefer the employees never even knew how close they came to being laid off. Especially if a few employees leaving could damage the potential turnaround. And if there is no chance to salvage the situation, then they want those employees to still be around long enough to finish whatever needs finishing.

    I'm not suggesting that how corporations treat employees is good. I'm just telling you what the thinking is. In fact, I hated that thinking so much that I quit my first high-level job. I'd been a manager of Web teams for most of my career. I got a job with Sabeer Bhatia (the Hotmail guy), and he brought me on as a Director. I sat in all/most of the upper-management meetings. I heard all sorts of private discussions, not meant for the rest of the employees. I knew when the product had serious issues that would hurt our funding. I knew when there was trouble with an investor. I knew when the management team was in conflict. It was never a good idea to let employees in on the issues. I learned that quickly. The first few times there were issues, I took my team to lunch and let them know. You cannot believe the fallout, swift and sure. I grew to hate it. I had to lie to employees when they would ask about rumors. I was supposed to have been doing that all along, anyway (well, maybe "lying" is too harsh because I'm bitter about it, I'm sure a more seasoned person would have simply said "none of your business" to every single rumor or TMI kind of question -- but for me, that just gets uncomfortable when you know the person has a family and will be out of work in a month). Eventually I quit. At my next job, the hiring manager was curious why I was going for a job as a manager of a small team when I was clearly moving up into Director & VP level work. I realized I'd rather be with the rest of the employees, not knowing about the sheer volumes of crap that hit the fan daily.

    As I get older, I get better at things, of course. I'm self-employed now, and I have a subcontractor for the times when the work is too plentiful. If I don't have work for the subcontractor, I just say so. If he ends his business relationship with me due to it, I'll deal with that. I try not to make too big a deal out of anything. But I'm also not running a company with 10,000 employees. If things go bad for me, the impact is tiny.

  • tech support too? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by v1 (525388) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @03:48AM (#15465310) Homepage Journal
    the software and support will be completely pulled out

    I wonder... I am an apple service tech and we have lost our dial-in support for service assistance in leu of an ichat-like support from... you guessed it... India. I talk to Chetan quite a lot but the names are very clearly all Indian. (they don't do like some tech support places, where you get someone with a hip-deep Indian accent who introduces himself as "Greg". Ya right...) A few times I've asked them where they were located, and it was of course some city in India. They do seem to be "otherwise occupied" when I chat with them, with 3-10 minute "ping times" on their answers being common. I also asked one of them one time, how many people are you chatting with right now? He says NINE. wow. Indians apparently have one thing on me, an amazing ability to multitask to the extreme.

    While the people we are chatting with are actually quite capable and do a good job, they are being pushed much too hard to offer the level of service we were used to by the US reps on the phone. I don't know if that's Apple demanding it, or the Indian phone support business offering a no-questions-asked calls-taken-per-hour rate.

    I seriously wonder though if this includes the service support also. I would like to see it go back to the old ways. If they are doing it, I would not be surprised if it were based on the feedback that they are receiving on their quality of service. "Sweatshop" work is never high quality.

    If it's just the customer support that's being moved back, best guess would be the customers do not like talking to someone that they clearly can tell is not even in the same country. I know it slightly irks me when I call some support/help number and get someone from India. (why is it always India? why can't it be Russia or Japan or Africa?) I think that even if the person on the line is knowledgeable and helpful, knowing it's someone from India (or any other country really) tends to put people in the mindset that they are not receiving high quality support, possibly because they know that the support person is probably receiving a very small wage compared to what it would be in the 'states.
  • Outsourcing....... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by segedunum (883035) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @07:53AM (#15465826)
    What goes around comes around, as they say. I've been amused by many companies over the years who thought they could save a huge bundle of money, when in reality the staff employed in those functions they want to move makes up perhaps 20% of their organisation but makes the most impact. Do people in a foreign country answering your calls, where it is totally obvious they know not even the most basic things about where you live (and you have waste time and money repeating things twenty times), does that sound good and make you want to use that company? I'll quote Joel Spolsky and Pradeep Singh:

    (Here's something Pradeep Singh taught me today: if only 20% of your staff is programmers, and you can save 50% on salary by outsourcing programmers to India, well, how much of a competitive advantage are you really going to get out of that 10% savings?)

    You also have the additionally huge costs of training those new employees, or outsourcing organisations, up in the ways of the organisation, the products, the technology and you also spend huge amounts of wasted time and money on communication. I've known many banks who've had that experience. A poor call centre worker gets the warm ear treatment from a customer in Europe, US, Canada etc. because the website is throwing up errors and he/she can't complete a transaction. A call is logged and there is a series of frantic phone calls and e-mails to the outsourced programming company in India, who needless to say, haven't got the faintest idea what they're talking about. Also (and this happens even in outsourcing companies situated in the same country but in another part) because they are not physically located in the heat of battle, and within on-site reach, they just don't give a shit. They'll do it when they've got time.

    In short, you need to have your support functions in your company with you completely, and they need to be as close to your paying customers as you can get. If there is a market in India for your products then by all means get close to your customers and open offices in India. Idiot CEOs and boards still have this ridiculously stupid fucking idea that the world is a place separated only by a common language - English. I think even British, American and Australian people can agree that that is most certainly not true. I suggest these idiot board members go and read the number one, definitive guide on running a multinational company properly:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/186197691 7/sr=1-2/qid=1149421474/ref=pd_bowtega_2/202-73591 57-8712641?_encoding=UTF8&s=books&v=glance [amazon.co.uk]

    What happened here is difficult to tell from the article, but maybe Apple had that sneeking suspision that maybe it just wasn't going to work.
  • And moves to China (Score:3, Interesting)

    by heroine (1220) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @04:28PM (#15468117) Homepage
    These articles don't often mention it, but when companies move out of India it's because Indians are too expensive and Chinese are now the cost winners.

The relative importance of files depends on their cost in terms of the human effort needed to regenerate them. -- T.A. Dolotta

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