How is the GCC region advancing in technology?
Peter Baron, director of communications and public relations at Google EMEA, discusses key trends, challenges and opportunities for GCC governments
By Bassema Demashkia
March 6, 2014 10:22 by kippreport
How do you see GCC governments positioned in terms of using technologies and services?
The UAE has big ambitions to provide more advanced e-government services, especially through its Smart City initiative. Google would love to see UAE users have seamless and universal internet access. We also hope to create a digital mirror of Dubai and its activities on the web.
What are the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead of GCC governments in the technology sector?
Opportunity is in mobile and delivering services to citizens through applications. The challenge lies in keeping up with users’ habits and their lifestyles – ensuring that technology enables and enhances the quality of life.
Where do you see the technology heading?
We see key trends in technology, such as multi-screen usage (from phones to tablets and desktops), the rise of the social web and, of course, mobile and apps. The growth of mobile reflects the philosophy of ‘nowism’, where people want information at their fingertips.
We have seen Google venturing into wearable technologies, how would you describe the performance of these devices, in terms of public acceptance and optimum usage?
Google Glass has been launched exclusively through our Explorer programme in the US. We have seen the product being used successfully in different contexts, from fashion shows to medical surgeries and, simply, helping people in their everyday lives.
What are the latest technologies in Google’s pipeline?
We are working hard to develop technologies that enhance the lives of our users. For example, Google Now is a feature that acts as a personal digital assistant around the clock, giving users relevant and useful results without them having to search for it.
How would you describe Google’s performance in the Middle East and GCC regions?
Google has been investing in the Mena region and will continue to do so. The region is fast growing, and we are introducing new features and updates to products, such as YouTube, Google Maps, Google Voice Search and Google Now, among others. We also work to build a vibrant ecosystem for entrepreneurs and start-ups, enhance Arabic content on the web and support the growth of e-commerce.
What areas would be interesting for Google to venture into next?
Google is always focused on the future. With big bets that have been successful, such as Gmail, Chrome, Android and YouTube, we continue to look at introducing better products. We’re also excited about the potential of technology in enhancing people’s lives, from Google Glass to Project Loon, driverless cars and, more recently, smart contact lens (still in prototype).
What affects your decision to invest in a specific sector?
Google’s primary goal is to solve big problems and invest in projects that will not only be transformative for the world, but will also be good business. If we find solutions that positively impact a huge number of people, everyone wins.
What are your plans to encourage and enhance your social media platform?
Google+ is growing exponentially, with more than 540 million users since we launched. Google+ is fast becoming the best place on the web to interact on a global platform, share interests, photos and videos.