Google launches Africa-only search app
The IT and advertising giant Google has released a specialized search app in 26 African countries. Its goal is to reduce users’ costs by cutting the amount of data needed to display results by up to 40 per cent, reports the Financial Times. Charles Murito, country head for Kenya, where Google’s sub-Saharan Africa headquarters is based, said the launch of Google Go was driven by the vast majority of smartphone users in the region having low-powered phones with small memories and unstable and expensive data connections.
The company, a subsidiary of Alphabet, is working with telecoms companies MTN and Vodacom to ensure the app, which takes up only 5MB of storage, works on 2G networks. “Someone in Turkana [in northern Kenya] shouldn’t have any worse an experience that someone in New York just b ecause they don’t have as good a device or connection,” Mr Murito said to FT.
“Google Go gives the same search results but with a better, lighter and faster experience.” Its rollout comes amid a massive expansion of smartphone use across the continent. Googles estimates there are some 230m smartphones in sub-Saharan Africa but this will almost double by 2020. Many have less than 1GB of RAM and very little storage. Kiswahili, a language used widely in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda is available on the app and other local languages will be rolled out soon, Mr Murito said.
The app is only available on Android phones but Mr Murito said this would cover 90 per cent of smartphone users in sub-Saharan Africa. Google Go was launched in India in December and the company, plans to roll it out elsewhere. Google launched YouTube Go, which operates on similar principles, a few months ago.