AOL plans to hire developers in India

America Online Inc. (AOL) is planning to open a small development shop in Bangalore, India, but the giant Internet service provider hasn’t worked out the details of how many Indian developers it would hire or what projects they would work on.

AOL began advertising to hire a global program manager to coordinate software development teams in the U.S., Dublin and Bangalore on Dec. 10, a day after the company announced it was eliminating 450 software development jobs in California. About 100 of those employees were offered jobs elsewhere in the U.S.

Asked what functions the Bangalore developers would perform, AOL spokesperson Jim Whitney said the company was only considering a Bangalore branch at this point. Asked what functions the Bangalore developers could perform that the laid off California workers could not, he answered: “It’s really a little too early to get into that.”

The Bangalore jobs would be unrelated to the California layoffs, Whitney said.

“There’s a talented work force there, and some cost savings that could be achieved,” Whitney said of a decision to hire Indian developers.

The AOL presence in India would be “relatively small,” Whitney said. AOL hasn’t yet determined what development projects the Bangalore office would work on, he added. The opening of the Bangalore development shop is “still a few months away,” he said.

By establishing a development facility in India, AOL would join dozens of other tech companies that have already done so, including IBM Corp., which plans to move more than 4,700 programming jobs to India and other countries, according to media reports earlier this month. In July, Yahoo Inc. set up a development center in Bangalore, and the company expected to hire 150 engineers there by the end of 2004.

Organizations representing U.S. workers, most notably the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers-USA, have decried the moves as contributing to unemployment among the country’s technology workers.

AOL already has about 200 developers working in Dublin, Whitney said.