Tyler Reed
Tyler Reed

Google SA: Set to rule

Unfortunately, I was not lucky enough to receive an invite to the Google South Africa event that happened in Johannesburg yesterday. Stafford Masie, country manager for Google South Africa, gave some insight into Google SA’s plans once it has launched in February next year.

I think it’s great to see Stafford wanting to leverage the power of the Google brand to drive broadband and educate the local market. However, I have my own ideas about Google SA’s plans. So far we know, they are based in Bryanston and will be making use of Internet Solutions’s data centre. We also know that Vodacom has partnered with the company to provide Google applications on cellphones. Google is well known for acquiring new start-ups and pulling in as many partners as it can, which will provide a beneficial relationship for them.

With its launch of next February, there are a few things I think we could expect to see. I could be right or I could just be slightly delusional, you decide. South Africa is approaching an internet boom in the next few years. As we see broadband penetration increase and internet education levels rise, online commerce will increase as well as the amount of local internet start-ups.

My predictions are that Google will acquire Vinny Lingham’s web-based publishing start-up, SynthaSite. It just received $5-million in funding, which will enable it to increase it’s offering and rival Google Pages. Vinny attended the event yesterday and sparked this thought.

Google will then begin optimising Google Checkout for the South African e-commerce environment, partnering with local banks to provide secure integrated solutions. Before it does that, Google will create a localised version of Google Product Search or it will just acquire Jump Shopping. Once again, the attendance of Albert Bredenhann, managing director of Jump Shopping, sparked this prediction.

Google SA will no doubt be working on systems to improve mobile commerce to take advantage of the large amount of cellphone users in South Africa. That said, they will also be pushing mobile advertising as much as they can. Google will already have set in motion its plans for a localised version of YouTube, as it has done in other countries. It will improve the mobile YouTube portal for South Africans so that it can increase the user base and video views, which in turn will allow it to serve more ads on the site.

On the education front, Google will probably do something I have been wanting it to do for a while. They will give universities and high schools the option of migrating to Google Apps as it has done in Kenya. This will allow each student to have an email address and access to Google Docs, which has a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation applications.

Overall, I think the presence of Google in South Africa will do wonders for the online industry, which will helps us reach the boom much quicker. I look forward to seeing what Google does throughout next year. I just hope they play fair and don’t become a monopoly.

  • http://www.erasibo.com Garsen Subramoney

    I’m not sure about your predictions on Google acquisitions locally but I agree that I can see how Google would want to explode its Google Apps range in South Africa. I wonder if Googles arrival has university IT managers praising the high heavens?

  • http://railsaktiv.com johan

    Sounds good, whichever way it turns out.

    One thing is for certain, the local online industry is due for a boom. And we are up for it!

  • LordFoom

    If broadband were cheap, then one could imagine Google teaming up with the OLPC project to provide the XO combined with google docs, apps, etc.

  • http://www.mydigitallife.co.za/hlakile Marinus Opperman

    Honestly, I do not think it will take off with such a speed. South Africa’s internet users are too few to warrant too much expansion in this area. It may be a cultural thing, but the internet is not yet a trusted medium and it might take another two years or so with much cheaper broadband rates. I might be wrong, but that’s my point and I am sticking to it.

  • http://www.tylerreed.co.za Tyler Reed

    Garsen: I think it would be a huge bonus for Google to offer universities Google apps lcoally. It would do wonders for their local PR.

    Marinus: I agree that the internet does not carry a lot of trust with South Africans. However, the increase in ecommerce locally and the fact that the younger generations trust the internet more than their older counterparts will play a role.

  • http://multimedia.thetimes.co.za/view_video.php?viewkey=abcb736ab9a754ffb617 carls

    On the education front… I hope you are right, I really do! I am interested to see what real social investments Google will make – how they plan to tackle government and approach the divide – the rest of your specualtion is interesting and time will tell!

  • sidakwa

    my take is that they will invest heavily in universities , to make the students grow “dependence” on Google pages etc just like Microsoft did here in uk where it made available Microsoft products to students to use in universities for academic purposes , resulting in graduates who “prefer” microsoft products due to prolonged exposure .

    google checkout is a sure bet and google products .

  • http://www.imob.co.za Nick

    Stafford mentioned a huge punt around mobile search – I think Google see mobile web growing alot faster than PC conections (obviously as currently a 7 to 1 ratio exists). Look for mobile acquisitions I say.

  • http://spamblocked.com Spam blocked

    Tyler, what a shameless punt for Vinny. Why would Google acquire synthasite when it has a much better offering of its own? Duh! Vinny wishes that $5M is enough for it to start competing…with a company making $1Bn profit each year. I don’t think so.

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