Bangalore: The Indian engineering and research arms of multinational tech firms Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc. are increasingly building more products for local and global markets in a trend that marks another step in the growth and evolution of these firms in the country, as well as the local market itself.
Google, for instance, is launching in India a so-called search-based keyword tool that gives e-commerce firms insights into customer behaviour, and helps them place their ads more effectively.
The tool was launched in some markets ahead of the Christmas season last year, and it was actually developed in India by Google engineer Ramanathan Guha as part of what is called 20% time—the search firm’s popular work practice that allows employees to use a fifth of their work time for projects of their interest.
“The brains, the innovation (of the tool) came from here (India),” said Mario Queiroz vice-president for product management at Google.
“It has shown enormous revenue impact on the company,” added Amit Somani, product manager for Google, but declined to share numbers, citing company policy. Google, which has its research and development (R&D) centre in Bangalore and engineering centre and Adwords—its text-based advertising support unit—in Hyderabad and Gurgaon, is also building products for the local market. It does not share employee numbers or investments in the country.
Meanwhile, its smaller rival Yahoo, which employs about 1,500 engineers in Bangalore, is moving away from being a mere engineering centre to building new products for the global market. The Bangalore centre manages the multimedia search for Yahoo, besides helping build products such as the Panama platform. The India operation is working to launch image search products with a focus on three markets: Japan, Taiwan and the US.
“In (the) US, we are the underdogs, so we are trying (different) set of things on our entertainment products,” said Sharad Sharma, chief executive of the India unit of Yahoo R&D. Some of the experiments would become products shortly, he said, without elaborating.
An analyst said these efforts by Google and Yahoo marked another stage in their development which began with an emphasis on cost and access to talent. “Existence of large user groups in India and low cost of early user adoption analysis in India has ensured India could be a source of ideas and a workshop to build global products,” said T.R. Madan Mohan, managing partner at Browne and Mohan, a technology consulting firm.