One in three Apple engineers is Indian? That’s a stretch

One in three Apple engineers is Indian? That’s a stretch....


Apple’s recent quarterly earnings call pointed to India as a growth market for iPads despite flagging sales in matured markets. India has also contributed greatly to iPhone sales in the past two quarters, as Apple pushed its older models aggressively through various promotions.

So naturally, India figures towards the top of the list as far as Apple’s key markets are concerned, but a report in a leading Indian daily today suggests that Apple also relies heavily on Indian IT talent. The report points out that one in 3 engineers employed by Apple is Indian, based on research conducted by HFS Research, a global business analysis firm.

While that high a proportion of Indians in Apple’s engineering workforce is of note, and the proportion sounds encouraging when looking at it from the Indian IT professional point of view, there are quite a few points of concern. Let’s look at the numbers cited in the report.

For one, the research says Apple employs around 12,000 people as “engineers, designers, marketers and other white-collar tech product workers”, but does not break down the figures further by each category. We are left to assume the number of engineers.

The second statistic that is being used to extrapolate the number of Indian engineers employed by Apple is the company’s H-1B visa applications, which is an indicator of the total number of foreigners (i.e not American citizens) hired by Apple. The report mentions two figures in this regard: “Apple filed 1,750 H-1B applications during the 10-year period 2001 to 2010, but the number increased sharply to 2,800 during 2011-13.”

And that’s about it. There’s no specificity as to the number of Indians in the total applications, nor about the total number of engineers. In fact, we don’t even know how many of those applications were accepted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). So all we know is that Apple applied for 2,800 H-1B visas between 2011 and 2013.

Everything that follows is just an overview of how Apple has increased its reliance on Indian IT vendors. There’s nothing that directly indicates that one in every three Apple engineers is Indian. But yes, as the company banks on the new wave of iPhones for big revenue in yet another quarter, India, a key smartphone market, will play a big part in Apple’s growth story.

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