The fear of job losses is hanging over Indian techieland. Rumours are flying around of an incipient wave of layoffs. Infosys has already announced it will step up hiring in the US. A labour union representing cubicle coders has approached two state governments—Tamil Nadu and Telangana—to protest against what it describes as illegal layoffs at Cognizant.

Meanwhile, Apple has become the first corporation to report a market value in excess of $800 billion. The prospect of a trillion-dollar baby does not seem so ridiculous any longer. Even Warren Buffett, who has usually said that his value-investing principles do not allow him to invest in technology companies, has disclosed that he has a stake in Apple.

The travails of the Indian software services machine based on labour arbitrage on the one hand, and the resounding success of Apple on the other, make an interesting contrast. There is a deeper lesson here about competing on innovation versus competing on price. No wonder there are growing calls for a reboot of the Indian software business model.

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