Asia Pacific is considered a growth market in the mobile and IT services industry, and Microsoft (news, site) is banking on the potential growth. The company is beefing up its staffing complement in China by about 10% this year.

Microsoft is planning to hire additional talent to strengthen its research and development efforts in APAC. At this point, the company has about 3,000 employees working in China, and it plans to hire 300 to 400 R&D personnel for the mainland alone. Microsoft also plans to hire 700 more personnel in other regional offices in APAC -- Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and South Korea.

Focus on Software, Cloud

Microsoft's APAC R&D Group chairman Ya-Qin Zhang said Microsoft is investing heavily in the smartphone industry, TV and gaming platforms, but is currently focusing on software development in light of cloud-based initiatives. "We will continue to work to improve Windows; our next generation of office products, which is more cloud-based and search and advertising," says Zhang.

Microsoft is spending US$ 9 billion in R&D this year, US$ 500 million of which is in the APAC region, and is said to be looking into technology improvements aggressively due to heavy competition with Google and Apple, particularly in smartphone development.

Smartphones, Enterprise Mobility

Zhang spoke briefly about Microsoft's recent partnership with Nokia, saying that Windows Phone 7 -- Microsoft's latest smartphone operating system -- will benefit from Nokia's existing distribution channel for smartphones. While Zhang did not disclose any further details on the partnership, he said that Microsoft expects the collaboration to help Windows Phone gain more ground in APAC.

APAC-Specific Issues

Zhang cited region-specific issues that need to be addressed. One of these is copyright, which can be a tricky proposition, particularly in China. While the country is advancing technologically at a respectable rate, rules and regulations can be confusing. "For multinational corporations, it takes more time to adapt to the policies in the country and decision-making tends to be delayed," he says.

Concerns in security, regulatory and legal frameworks are among the biggest hurdles to cloud computing success in the Asia Pacific region. These are being addressed by collaborations such as Asia Cloud, of which Microsoft is a member. Microsoft's beefing up of its R&D staff in the region will help the company develop cloud, mobile and enterprise solutions better-geared for its APAC clients, especially given regional nuances and demands.