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Adobe pitches global unit out of India, aims big

Since its start in 1998, Adobe's headcount is fast heading towards the 1,000 mark in India, reports Narayanan Madhavan.
None | By Narayanan Madhavan, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON OCT 31, 2006 08:01 PM IST

Adobe Systems Inc, the world's fifth largest software company with familiar products such as Photoshop and Acrobat Reader, is steadily raising its presence in India-based research and development and also somewhat quietly running one of its key global business units out of India.

"It is fair to say we are going to grow faster in India," Adobe's Indian-born president and chief operating officer Shantanu Narayen told Hindustan Times on Tuesday at its technology centre in Noida, where the better part of its Indian engineers work on a host of products aimed at helping newspapers, businesses and content publishers on mobile phones and the Internet.

Adobe, under current senior vice-president Naresh Gupta, was one of the first global companies to start advanced product development in India when others were still testing the country's waters with low-end coding.

Since that start in 1998, its headcount is fast heading towards the 1,000 mark in India, which it is likely to hit by the year-end. Adobe plans to invest $200 million (Rs 900 crore) in India over five years.

About 250 of the engineers are in Bangalore, thanks to Adobe's acquisition last year of rival Macromedia, makers of the popular Flash Web authoring tool, for $3.4 billion.

While Adobe's Indian engineers help with all products, Noida is also now the headquarters of one of the company's six global business units that addresses "print and classic publishing," a reference to markets that includes newspapers and book publishers.

This unit, along with another that sells technology platforms accounts for 10 per cent of Adobe's sales of $2.6 billion, Narayen said.

The Indian office runs everything from products to pricing and strategy, and the location is also proximate to hot markets like Japan, Gupta said.

While Adobe has a clutch of technology centres spanning places from its home base in California to remote Romania, Indian engineers account for about 25 per cent of its global research and development staff.

Adobe, which employs about 6,000 people, spends about 20 per cent of its sales revenues on R&D, Narayen said.

"You can see every single product has significant components from here (in India)," said Narayen, who studied electronics engineering in Hyderabad's Osmania University before heading for higher degrees in the United States. He holds five patents.

Adobe has come a long way from the times when it was mainly known for its Photoshop, Acrobat and PageMaker software.

PageMaker, in a new avatar as InDesign to help advanced print publishing, is winning 70 per cent or more of new deals from rival Quark since 1999, Narayen said.

Aided by technologies from Macromedia, it is now a hot player in streaming content to mobile phones and video over Internet. Its clients include Disney, Nokia and Samsung.

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