What Ap­ple’s new job ad­di­tions tell us about its prod­uct plans

Ap­ple an­nounced re­cently that it would be ex­pand­ing its pres­ence in a num­ber of U.S. cities, and Dan Moren’s reading the tea leaves to see what that means about its busi­ness.

Macworld (USA) - - Contents - BY DAN MOREN

Ap­ple’s well known for its cen­tral­ized ap­proach, not just in terms of hard­ware and soft­ware, but also in ge­og­ra­phy. The com­pany has pre­vi­ously pushed hard to lo­cate as many of its non-re­tail em­ploy­ees as pos­si­ble in its home­town of Cu­per­tino, in large part be­cause of its be­lief that its em­ploy­ees work bet­ter on phys­i­cally prox­i­mate teams. Look no fur­ther than its enor­mous new home base, Ap­ple Park ( go.mac­world.com/ aprk), which opened there ear­lier this year.

But this week, the com­pany an­nounced

that it would be ex­pand­ing its foot­print ( go. mac­world.com/nwcp) in sev­eral U.S. cities out­side the Bay Area, most no­tably in Austin, Texas, where it al­ready has its largest non-cu­per­tino pres­ence, but also in a few other key lo­ca­tions. In par­tic­u­lar, Ap­ple projects that in the next three years it will ex­ceed 1000 em­ploy­ees in three cities: Seattle, San Diego, and Cul­ver City.

Given the size and prof­itabil­ity of

Ap­ple’s busi­ness, it’s no sur­prise that it would want to hire ag­gres­sively, but this does seem to go against the com­pany’s pre­vi­ous ethic of bring­ing its em­ploy­ees to­gether in a sin­gle place. So there must be some­thing sig­nif­i­cant about these spe­cific lo­ca­tions it’s cho­sen, some­thing that Ap­ple can get in them that it can’t nec­es­sar­ily get in Cu­per­tino. Some­thing like, say, at­tract­ing tal­ent in cer­tain key fields.

Out of idle cu­rios­ity, I took a cur­sory cruise through the com­pany’s job list­ings for these lo­ca­tions, in the hopes it might pro­vide some tea leaves about where Ap­ple is putting its bets over the next few years.

WIRE­LESS IN SAN DIEGO

San Diego’s got un­de­ni­ably nice weather and a great craft beer scene, but nei­ther of those are prob­a­bly among the pri­mary rea­sons for Ap­ple’s ex­pan­sion into sunny south­ern Cal­i­for­nia. But you don’t have to dig too deep to suss out the ra­tio­nale, es­pe­cially when you con­sider the re­cent news that Ap­ple, which is en­gaged in a nasty spat with for­mer sup­plier Qual­comm, was look­ing into build­ing its own cel­lu­lar net­work­ing chips.

As it hap­pens, San Diego is the world­wide head­quar­ters of Qual­comm. So if one were look­ing to lure away per­son­nel with an ex­per­tise in the cel­lu­lar con­nec­tiv­ity busi­ness, it would seem like a good place to be. And, in­deed, Ap­ple’s al­ready posted a num­ber of jobs in San Diego for po­si­tions on its “grow­ing wire­less sil­i­con de­vel­op­ment team.”

Ev­ery de­vice Ap­ple makes re­quires some sort of wire­less sil­i­con, whether it be cel­lu­lar, Wi-fi, Blue­tooth, NFC, or some­thing else en­tirely. The W1 chip em­bed­ded in the Air­pods and Beats head­phones is a clear in­di­ca­tion that

Ap­ple would like to push the state of wire­less for­ward, and San Diego ap­pears to be the place to do it.

SIRI IN SEATTLE

Home to ri­val tech gi­ants like Ama­zon and Mi­crosoft, Seattle seems like a no-brainer lo­ca­tion where Ap­ple would want to ex­pand its work­force. There are so many peo­ple work­ing in so many di­verse tech­ni­cal fields in the re­gion that it’s tricky to iso­late any spe­cific things that the com­pany is fo­cus­ing on.

But, af­ter tak­ing a look at Ap­ple’s

Seattle job open­ings, it’s clear that one key area the com­pany is build­ing up there is Siri. The com­pany de­scribes “a new Siri en­gi­neer­ing team based in Seattle” and is hir­ing not only data sci­en­tists and ma­chine learn­ing sci­en­tists, but also sev­eral soft­ware en­gi­neers to work on in­te­grat­ing third-party soft­ware with its Sirikit frame­work.

So far, Sirikit has been rather un­der­whelm­ing, lim­ited only to a hand­ful of apps of­fer­ing spe­cific ser­vices, like to-do lists, VOIP call­ing, pay­ments, and a few oth­ers. But with the ad­di­tion of Siri Shortcuts in IOS 12 this year, it seems clear that Siri is poised to be­come even more pow­er­ful in re­la­tion to third-party apps, and Seattle is where a lot of that ef­fort seems like it’s go­ing to hap­pen.

CON­TENT IN CUL­VER CITY

The third ma­jor lo­ca­tion Ap­ple spelled out in its news re­lease was Cul­ver City, and it doesn’t take some­one with show­biz savvy to fig­ure out why. The com­pany’s foray into video stream­ing ( go. mac­world.com/tvsh) is the worst kept se­cret in both the en­ter­tain­ment and tech in­dus­tries, and it’s ob­vi­ous that Ap­ple’s ex­pect­ing it to be big busi­ness.

There are a hand­ful of jobs in video con­tent listed on Ap­ple’s site for Cul­ver City, but over­all the list­ings for the city seem to re­late to its rapidly grow­ing Ser­vices busi­ness, in­clud­ing di­vi­sions like Ap­ple Mu­sic and re­la­tions with the com­pany’s stream­ing video part­ners. (There’s also, un­sur­pris­ingly, a big pres­ence for the Beats by Dre brand that Ap­ple ac­quired in 2014 for $3 bil­lion, which is head­quar­tered in Cul­ver City.)

With Ap­ple’s goal of in­creas­ing its Ser­vices rev­enue to al­most $50 bil­lion by 2020, it’s a good bet that Cul­ver City will be one of the hubs of that busi­ness. And with the com­pany’s stream­ing video ser­vice likely due to launch next year, the prox­im­ity to Hol­ly­wood is no co­in­ci­dence. ■

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