Google sees fastest growing operations in MENA
Eric Schmidt delivers keynote at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit
Google CEO Eric Schmidt revealed the Middle East and North Africa region is the company's fastest growing region in the world, in terms of the number of users and revenue generated.
Schmidt was speaking at the first Abu Dhabi Media Summit which is taking place from March 9th to 11th at the Yas Hotel.
His keynote at the event focused on innovation in the media, stating that the future of the internet will be driven by mobile devices. While answering a question posed from an Emirati who asked why the company didn't have a presence in the UAE, Schmidt answered by saying that the country had the fastest growing operations for the company in the world. He later clarified in a media Q&A session that the entire MENA region overall had the fastest growing operations in terms of revenue and number of users, with the Latin America region being the second fastest growing.
Schmidt also said in his keynote address that half of all new internet connections are for mobile devices. "If you want to understand the future of internet don't think of it as pipes and tubes, think of it as a mobile device...," he told delegates at the event.
Explaining that the "new model is going to be in the inversion of the model we grew up with", he says that the strategy for media going forward will be 'internet first', where content producers, for example, will use the medium of the internet to build traction and get real numbers to then approach partners to raise additional funding.
But despite his obvious preference for online, Schmidt said he does not believe that the internet-based media will replace existing mediums and that it should instead be used a part of a broader strategy.
Schmidt refused to comment on the China censorship issue but said that updates would be made public "soon". Speaking on the topic of local censorship, Mohammad Gawdat, Google's managing director for Emerging Markets, also added that the company had not received specific censorship requests from the Middle East, despite peoples' perceptions.
The Middle East only ‘graduated' in 2009, which is a term Google uses internally to signify that the infrastructure has been laid out and that it is now possible to start pursuing their mission here, which involves organising the world's information and making it universally accessible and useful.
Google presently has technical teams based in Zurich to service the region but CEO Schmidt said there were plans for a local Arabic engineering team in the future.