Long time ago, at a supremely formative juncture of his life, Steve Jobs had visited India. It was an experience that had touched him deeply, moved him unexpectedly, and changed him fundamentally.
In light of that, Apple’s recent departure after 2 months of experimentation with an India operation seems rather callous.
No one knows the WHY. I don’t know either. I knew that Sina Tamaddon and Jean Marie Hulot were exploring the option of setting up a development center in India. This scrapped unit is not a development unit, but a call center. Also to be noted is that Jean Marie has since left Apple, one of the several high level departures (along with Jon Rubenstein, Avi Tevanian, Nancy Heinen).
I do have some thoughts on why Bangalore is (was) about the worst location choice that Apple could have possibly made.
Apple is a cult. Employees drink the water that trickles down from the fountain, after washing Steve Jobs’ feet. In Indian religious terminology, this is called Charanamrita (literal translation: the ambrosia that flows from the feet of the Lord). This presupposes the fact that Apple enjoys tremendous employee loyalty. Jobs expects ultimate loyalty from everyone (he offers loyalty to no one, but that’s a different topic).
This culture would NEVER fit with Bangalore’s mercenary Information Technology / BPO workers. They don’t even know how to spell loyalty. They couldn’t care less about cults. Show me the money is the mantra that prevails at the end of the day, and the best Apple could have hoped for, is a 600 person call center with 40%-60% churn.
Against that backdrop, Apple, I suspect, felt lost.
The mistake Apple made, I think, is Bangalore.
There are other places in India where people’s emotions run high, loyalty IS valued and offered to those who deserve it. Passion comes before Price. It is there, that Apple could have found its soul connection.
Not in the cultural desert of Bangalore.
This segment is a part in the series : Apple