SINGAPORE--Search giant Google has finally established a direct presence in Southeast Asia, through a new sales and operations office in Hong Kong. The move comes eight years after the U.S. company was founded in 1998.
Operating since October last year, the Hong Kong office was formally launched this week and is part of the company's move to expand its international presence, according to Crid Yu, head of sales, Google Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. With the new opening, the company's advertising and marketing programs such as AdWords, are now available to agencies and companies located across Southeast Asia including Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand.
Google's three other Asian offices are in Japan, Korea and India.
The Hong Kong setup is long-awaited, admitted Yu, who said during a media briefing here Thursday that customers in this region have also pointed out the absence.
But he noted that Google is in fact, still a relatively young organization which only went public in 2004.
He added that the company's new footprint into the Southeast Asian market is not too late, even if some of its competitors have already established strong presence here. Yahoo for example, has offices in various countries in the region including China, Singapore, Hong Kong and India.
Google fast facts
The popular online search engine runs in more than 130 international domains and supports over 100 languages. Google went public in August 2004, where its shares rose by 18 percent after the first day of trading. At press time, its stock price was valued at US$365.49.
Google's network reaches 80 percent of the world's Internet population, or more than 427 million Web users, where half its search traffic originates from outside the United States.
Yu explained that while Google has not had a direct presence in this part of Asia until now, its popularity is far-reaching and its brand name widely recognized across markets here.
The search company is confident of expanding its customer base in Southeast Asia, and will continue to open new offices as soon as the demand warrants it, he said.
Google's Hong Kong office currently supports large customers and marketing agencies, while small and midsize enterprises will be served by the company's team of resellers.
Yu added that three new sales partners--PCCW Directories, AsiaPac Net Media and UDomain Web Hosting Company--have joined the Google Authorized Reseller Program in Southeast Asia.
According to IDC, Asia-Pacific online advertising revenue will reach US$1.62 billion next year, compared to US$304.3 million in 2002. Yu added that online advertising markets in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia are estimated to be worth US$8 million, US$20 million and US$4 million, respectively.