Apple has been on a "hiring binge" in Asia, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. Citing unnamed sources, the newspaper said that Apple has hired hundreds of engineers in China and Taiwan in the last several months, many of whom will be involved in better managing and developing Apple's supply chain in Asia and in developing new products.
All told Apple now employs some 600 engineers in China alone, an increase of "several hundred" since the middle of 2013. The company didn't confirm those numbers for the report.
Apple's gains are its competitors' losses, and The Journal said that Apple has been using LinkedIn to reach out to engineers at HTC and other Taiwanese companies as it builds teams in both Shanghai and Taipei.
In one recruiting email, the company said, "Apple is building an engineering team in Taipei to drive new iPhone product development."
Chain, Chain, Chaaaaain
Apple was already far more involved in micromanaging its supply chain than its competitors. Just as it is doing in Arizona with sapphire maker GT Advanced, Apple has long purchased equipment and factories that are then operated by third party component makers.
Apple also invents many of the manufacturing techniques used to make its components, techniques it then has experts on the manufacturing side employ. Apple also has engineers working directly with those suppliers, not to mention auditers and all of the other people involved in monitoring and improving compliance with its Supplier Code of Conduct.
If Apple is on a local engineering "hiring binge," it tells us several things. The first is that the company is expecting to expand its supply chain even further. Those impatient for Apple to release a new product category should pay attention.
The second is that Apple also wants to improve what is already the most remarkable supply chain in the world. The company does things that its competitors could only dream of, and this includes everything from time to market to inventory management. Local hiring shows that Apple thinks it can make these things even better.
The most important thing this hiring shows is that Apple is willing and able to think differently. While Apple is based in California and proudly advertises its products as "Made in California," hiring talented engineers in Asia will bring more ideas to the company's product development process.
Just as I mentioned on Monday that Apple could benefit from building research and development facilities in Switzerland, the same is true for China, Taiwan, Turkey, Israel, Germany, Brazil, Russia, and anywhere else where technology is flourishing.
Asia particularly offers opportunities on the component side of Apple's product development. There are many, many engineers throughout Asia who have been working the supply chain side of manufacturing. Tapping that expertise in local offices will bring new opportunities to Apple.
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