Google is setting up an office in Jakarta in an attempt to tap into the country’s huge demand for connectivity and technology.
With a population of 240 million and growing access to the Internet through mobile phones, Indonesia holds major potential for Google, ranking second worldwide in the number of Facebook users and third for Twitter.
“By putting people on the ground we find much stronger ties with our partners, the government, our advertisers, and so on,” Julian Persaud, Google’s managing director of Southeast Asia, said during a meeting with reporters on Friday.
Google wants to improve its products and services according to Indonesians’ preferences, he said. For example, Google Maps in Indonesia offers information about road traffic volume, especially important for residents in major cities such as Jakarta.
The Jakarta office will be Google’s fourth in Southeast Asia after opening others in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
Persaud said the Web economy moves three times faster than the real economy, and as Indonesia’s economy continues to expand at a steady pace, he expects to tap into the solid digital expansion that accompanies it.
The company is also eyeing Indonesia as a growing market for its mobile operating system, Android. Worldwide, an average 750,000 new Android systems are activated for smartphones and tablets every day, and as Android-compatible phones continue to become less expensive, Persaud said he expects Indonesia to help push growth in the global Android market.
Shipments of Android-operated mobile phones to Indonesia rose by 22 percent in the fourth quarter last year compared to the previous quarter, according to International Data Corporation, which did not release statistics on the number of units.
As companies offer mobile phones at prices below Rp 1.2 million ($131), IDC said it would “expect Android to dominate the market in the coming quarters.”
Google will hire Indonesian employees as it builds up its operation here. Persaud said the company will start with a small staff but he is confident it will grow.
“It’s like in Singapore, where we opened an office in 2007. We started with a handful of people and now we have a couple hundred,” he said.