Friday, June 23, 2006

Google Seeks Middle East Expansion

Source: FT

As the Middle East’s and North Africa’s online populations increase, Google, Inc. is seeking to expand its business into the region. It has already gone as far as producing some of its services in Arabic, as part of an effort to increase internet usage in the region.

They have released an Arabic version of their Google News feature, which it the first central platform for Arab media. Other products released include an e-mail service and an English translator.

The hope is that the services will increase political, social, and economic ties in the region and have an effect similar to Arab satelitte television’s launch, according to Hussein Amin, chair of the Journalism and Mass Communications department of the American University in Cairo. He anticipates this effort will lead to an increase in the number of Arabic websites.

One of the concerns is that some of the govenrments in the region will pressure Google to release user information. Google maintins that it will not impliment a similar service that it did in China, where it filtered some search results as a result of pressure from the Chinese government.

One of Google’s main competetors, MSN, also plans an Arab e-mail serivce.

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