Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Google's juggernaut reaches the Middle East

If you’ve followed Google for the past decade, the only way to describe the company is that it is a ‘juggernaught’!

Product after product, breakthroughs and revolutions every month and it’s all perfectly summed up by the company’s performance on the stock market. How I wish I had bought Google stock years ago!

Anyway, up until 2006, it didn’t look like the Middle East had properly registered yet on Google’s radar.

Apart from the fact that Google efficiently Arabized its services and was gaining users, there was very little direct involvement in the region, or at least we couldn’t see it!

Then, sometime in 2006, we started hearing whispers like ‘watchout, Google is coming to the Middle East’, mostly from the region’s online portals and communities who have to pay attention when the goliath comes to town.

Soon enough, Google’s intent was revealed.

In June 2006, Google launched Arabic News, and it emerged that they’d appointed a regional director for Europe, the Middle East & North Africa, Dennis Woodside, who said “The launch of Google News in Arabic demonstrates Google’s commitment to bring localized products to users across the globe.”

Within a year, by summer 2007, Google opened its first office in the region in Cairo, Egypt.

Several ‘onliners’, myself included, stated that it was the first step in Google’s efforts to boost revenues from Arab clients for Google’s advertising solutions, and maybe even launch an Arabic-language contextually-targeted AdSense service.

At the time, the president of Google’s operations in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), Nikesh Arora, said: “MENA is a region with 300 million people, speaking the same language. We hope our products, and the Internet as a whole, will bring useful and beneficial tools to our Arabic users. We can see potential for industries like tourism and travel which are important to Egypt’s economy.”

Then, later in the year, Google popped up in Dubai, hiring a marketing team, appointing a country manager, and holding a Google AdWords Seminar in November 2007. So, it seems to only be a matter of time before Google will be ‘doing the rounds’ across the region.

At the risk of sounding like I’m courting Google’s attention, I’ll say that Google’s interest in Arab users and markets is good news because it means we’ll get better localized services, more online service choices and we’ll have a regional channel to provide feedback about these services.

What’s wrong with more choice? Nothing at all.

In today’s global economy, Arab online players need to rise to a global challenge, from the likes of Google.

In countries like Russia and Korea, local players still lead in search engines and, surely, there will be certain online applications which our home-grown onliners will lead.

But, for everything else, there’s Google!

Published in The Star newspaper


At 2:25 PM , Blogger Minx0r said...

Well it seems Google are not fairing so well with the departure of their business development man who WAS supposed to head Google's efforts in the Middle East.

I have an idea I have been DYING to push with Google ME (doesn't everyone!) but unfortunately I have yet to be put in contact with someone that would be willing to listen.

Nice blog by the way, hopefully someone on here will give me the 4 million LE (with an 8 month ROI)I need to take over the ME, virtually speaking ofcourse. :D

At 11:19 PM , Blogger Zeid Nasser said...

You're in luck minxOr, Google staff visiting the Middle East are in fact reading this post .....

Stay tuned, then let me know if anyone actually contacts you.


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