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Google sets up first engineering team in Singapore to reach its next billion users


By Charlotte McEleny, Asia Editor

February 18, 2016 | 2 min read

Google admits its services aren’t fit for the swathes of people coming online for the first time in Asia, and is now building an engineering team in Singapore for the first time to bridge this.

The company announced in a blog post that it has bought, a Singapore-based startup that is similar to work-based messaging services like Slack, and will be hiring developer talent in the area.

Caesar Sengupta, vice president, Next Billion Users Team, said: “the computing experience for most of these first-timers, coming online in places like India, Indonesia and the Philippines, is very different from the one many of us grew up with – and not the one that most of Google’s services were originally designed for. Their main (and in most cases, only) “computer” is a low-cost smartphone. Connectivity is expensive in relation to incomes, and frequently patchy – websites, maps and especially videos can take minutes to load and often time out. And for many, there is just not enough relevant content available in their language.”

According to the post, Singapore was chosen due to its hyper-connectivity and its proximity to the regions that Google wants to better service on a local-level.

“In many ways, Singapore feels like the best place to do this. It is hyper-connected, with some of the fastest Internet speeds in the world. And, it sits at the center of a region with half of the world's current Internet users, and more new Internet users coming online every day than anywhere else in the world,” he added.

The Drum has expanded coverage into Asia, with editorial resource being based out of Singapore.

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