Microsoft vows to beef up hiring and investment in China in "Go Big" push

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 September, 2012, 3:29am

Microsoft plans to hire another 1,000 staff on the mainland and increase its investment in the country by 15 per cent this fiscal year as part of its so-called "China Go Big" strategy.

Ralph Haupter, the company's new chairman and chief executive for Greater China, said in his first public appearance on the mainland that the new staffers would be added in departments including research and development, sales, marketing and other services. The departments had about 4,500 staff for the year to June.

"Our new strategy reflects our perception, emphasis and commitment to the China market. In this new era, China and the entire Greater China region will become the source of global innovation," Haupter told reporters at the company's Beijing headquarters.

Microsoft also expects to expand its presence in 15 provinces and 20 cities across the country by bolstering its staff and management and working with local government offices. Haupter said he had already met government officials and private partners after he replaced former chief executive Simon Leung in April.

"It's the most ambitious plan we have had for China in the last two decades," said Zhang Yaqin, chairman of the firm's Asia-Pacific research and development group, who joined the China operation 12 years ago. He added the increased investment would be on top of current spending of roughly US$500 million.

Microsoft's expansion comes as the software giant tries to catch up with Apple and Google in the fast-growing mobile internet market. Research firm Analysys International said the Android operation system dominated 76.6 per cent of phones in the second quarter but Microsoft's share of this was relatively small.

"It's a bit late for Microsoft to enter the Chinese market, where the Android and IOS operation systems are already key players. And after the company entered the market, it didn't provide high-quality products to wrest control of the market," said Sun Chonghui, a senior mobile internet analyst with Analysys.

The latest figures from the China Internet Network Information Centre showed the country had 538 million people online at the end of June, an 11 per cent increase from a year earlier. The number of people using wireless devices grew twice as fast, rising 22 per cent to 388 million.

Chinese search giant Baidu released its own new mobile browser on Monday and said it would invest 10 billion yuan (HK$12.22 billion) to build a cloud computing facility.

Haupter said Microsoft had "a plan of attack and different offerings that will change the game". He added that the firm was recruiting more local partners to develop mobile applications specifically for China.

Zhang also said the company estimated about 40 per cent of enterprise users in China used private cloud computing services and a service for use by the public was being developed.