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Microsoft and Google eye on Arabic web growth

The further integration of Arabic language capabilities in internet and other technological architecture will grant millions access to digital world, Microsoft and Google executives said. As devices and applications become more ubiquitous in less developed countries, their content will grow and an embryonic e-economy should flourish, they said. Steve Ballmer talked and believed Arabic would be an increasingly important language,” said Craig Mundie. “And yet, because of the way the internet was evolving, it wasn’t a language that was getting a lot of use.” But while Arab world internet use since 2000 has grown faster than anywhere else and access costs have shrunk, content still punches below its weight and ad spending remains tiny. Arabic content is less than 1% of world totals though speakers constituting 5% of global population. Arabic portal of online encyclopedia Wikipedia carries less words than its Catalan site, Google’s Wael Ghonim said. “There’s a lot of Arabic content but it isn’t well structured,” he said. “We want more structured content. We want more of the professional, niche sites, more businesses.” “One of our biggest missions is to enable Arabic users to find the right tools to enrich Arabic content,” Ghonim said. “It would be great to see more e-commerce in the region, more publishers, more news sites. We’re committed to help them.” Asked how Google could aid such regional growth, Ghonim said: “We’ve a ambitious plan in next few months, we’re working on many initiatives.” He didn’t elaborate.


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