Siemens: India to head 3G applications development

Siemens is increasing the number of software engineers on its Indian research and development team to take advantage of local software expertise, and is putting the group in charge of developing new mobile broadband applications for worldwide markets.

One hundred additional Indian engineers will join Siemens' 400-member team of software developers at the company's R&D center in Bangalore, India, the German electronics company said Wednesday in a statement. The center will assume global responsibility for developing applications, such as location-based services and multimedia messaging, to run over new 3G (third-generation) networks based on WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) technology, Siemens said.

A key reason for locating 3G software applications development in India is to take advantage of well-trained, gifted Indian software engineers, Axel Schafmeister, a spokesman for Siemens' Information and Communication Mobile Group said.

Siemens also plans a major assault on the Indian mobile phone market by introducing six phones currently available in other markets. The models include the A55 for entry-level users and the SL55, S55, CL50, M55 and SX1 for more advanced users, according to the statement. The A55 and a still-undecided number of the other models will be equipped with an Hindi-language menu, the spokesman said.

"Until now, we've focused mostly on selling Indians less-expensive phones," Schafmeister said. "We will continue to offer an inexpensive entry-level phone but intend to offer the same phones to users in India as we do in Europe and other markets. We see substantial demand."

Slightly more than one percent of all Indians, or 13 million people, currently own mobile phones, according to Siemens. The number of users doubled last year and is expected to increase by 100 percent again this year, the company said. The Indian mobile phone market, which is presently growing by around 500,000 new customers each month, could exceed 50 million by 2005, it said.

In addition to the Bangalore center, Siemens employs over 700 engineers at its development center in Milan, Italy, which is primarily responsible for 3G network hardware and software development, according to Schafmeister. Last year, the company shifted its global research for mobile phone hardware and software from Germany to Shanghai, China, he said.

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