By Mohamed Alaa Eldin
In 2015, Google will focus on encouraging emerging companies to expand their operations using modern technology, as over two-thirds of local small and medium-sized companies do not have a website.
In a statement by the company’s MENA region manager Mohamed Mourad, the company will encourage users to make use of a unique content and achieve success through YouTube partners programme. This comes in addition to maintaining its strategy to enrich the Arabic content on the internet.
Two weeks ago, Google and the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology signed an agreement to empower young people and students with talents to establish successful emerging companies.
What are your plans for the MENA region market in 2015?
Since the establishment of our office in Egypt, we aimed to develop the internet in the region, whether through increasing the number of companies on the internet or through marketing solutions for companies looking for direct sales. We are also trying our best to encourage new company owners to be able to start their work, as well as internet users to add a unique content through YouTube partners programme which is expanding in the MENA region and is currently covering 11 countries.
Last year, we doubled the number of employees in the region, and the company will keep investing as it believes in the potential of the Arab world. Helping new and different commercial companies to work on the internet is one of our top priorities. There is still chance for development since these companies are facing operational, capital, and legal challenges. Many of these companies, however, have a positive vision regarding the importance of the internet as a means for developing and expanding their business. We are always keen on developing the potential of young people in Egypt on the technological level as well as the small and medium-sized activities so as to guarantee growth on the internet.
What is the mission of Google’s initiative with the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology to empower youth for creative thinking?
This is not the first initiative for Google in Egypt, as we previously partnered with the ministry during the “Start with Google” initiative, which focused on revitalising the climate for entrepreneurship and boosting young people to launch successful commercial activities. We aim to make Egypt a centre for talents in the region and the whole world. On an annual basis, a huge number of students graduate with a degree in computer science, making a great number of investment opportunities locally. This initiative indicates the seriousness of the Egyptian government to empower young people, as it was a partner with Google to find Egyptian talent.
Indicators pointed out to the increasing number of mobile and smart phone users, which became an important means to get many activities done, increasing young people’s opportunities in the sector. Statistics also showed that 86% of global smart phone users use the internet for communication. In Egypt, the number was at 60%, and half of this rate spends their time on the internet playing games.
What are your plans to increase the Arabic content on the internet?
We offer various products that offer Arabic content to the user, like social network websites. We also encourage users to boost the Arabic content through various initiatives, the latest of which was Bil Arabi Ahla. In Google Maps, we launched 11 local maps in the region, while Street View Google Maps launched nine maps for historical and cultural places in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt. We always aim to increase the number of countries and cities on Google Maps in the future. YouTube is one of the most famous websites in the region. The MENA region users browse 310m videos on YouTube on a daily basis.
What is the general growth rate for online advertising?
Online advertising makes up to $590bn of global annual budget for marketing globally, and the digital marketing share is at 17% of the total spending on MENA region advertisements, while it amounts to 30% in the US according to E-marketer Association.
What is the expected growth rate for Google Play downloads in 2015?
We currently have more than 1m applications on Google Play and we expect more growth. Our total spending on programme developers exceeded $5bn since 2013. During last year, revenues by developers were more than doubled, compared to the previous year. Google Play is a great opportunity to reach millions of users online. It is of note that Android users make up to more than 1bn users around the world.
What are the recent indicators for Google globally and locally? And what are the growth rates expected for the search engine by the end of 2015?
The increasing internet content helps in the development of search services on a daily basis. We aim at providing users with their needs so that they can focus on the things that are most important to them. We have been working on improving the search for more than a decade, and this is still the beginning. Voice search will be of great importance with the increasing number of mobile phones last year. Statistics show that websites amount to 60tn (compared to 1tn in 2008). And average time of responding to a query search is a quarter of a second, while more than 100bn searches are being conducted on Google every month.
What are the new products Google plans to launch?
All our products are in line with Google’s broader mission, which is to make information more widely accessible, changing people’s lives to the better with technology and staying focused on the future. We believe technology should do the hard work so people can get on with life. Everything at Google should pass the ‘toothbrush test,’ which means creating technology that people can use at least twice a day, for example, Google Now, Knowledge, Maps, and Voice. Also, innovating in a revolutionary way not evolutionary is important. Incremental change can make companies obsolete over time. Nest, for example, has taken unloved but important home devices and made them beautifully simple and useful. We want to create one consistent experience across multi-screens with Android.