AOL sets up software centre in India

America Online Inc. (AOL) has opened a software development centre in Bangalore, India, according to the company.

The AOL Bangalore Development Center employs 12 people and will expand the staff to about 50 workers by the middle of the year, said Jim Whitney, a company spokesperson. “It is a small effort,” Whitney said.

The software development centre will help handle product development, maintenance and quality assurance.

AOL, based in Dulles, Va., already has a customer support subsidiary in Bangalore, called America Online Member Services India (P) Ltd. The subsidiary employs about 1,600 staff and is increasing to 1,900 employees by July. The operation also offers content management and content development services for AOL. Part of the work involves developing technologies in countering spam and parental control of Internet access. The new software development centre operates as a division of the subsidiary.

AOL is the latest among technology and Internet companies to set up a software development centre in India. Yahoo Inc. in Sunnyvale, Calif., announced the appointments Friday of two chief technology officers for its software development subsidiary in Bangalore, which develops technology and products for data mining, search, e-commerce, mail, social networking and core technology platforms.

In the wake of U.S. protests against outsourcing, AOL and other U.S. companies are typically hesitant to disclose hiring plans in India. AOL eliminated 450 positions, primarily in software development, in California last December to cut costs, but that was unrelated to setting up the software development center in Bangalore, Whitney said.

It is a little too early to go into detail on the projects that will be handled by the Bangalore centre, Whitney said. But a clue to what AOL plans comes from a recruitment advertisement this week in a local daily newspaper inviting applicants to lead the development of next-generation, scalable solutions and to take ownership of existing mission-critical software products. The centre’s objective will be to deploy and reliably maintain technology products, applications and systems for all AOL-branded consumer services worldwide, according to the advertisement.

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