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Google woos Next Billion Users as campaign ends in Ibadan


Product Design Strategist at Google, Garen Checkley

Search engine giant, Google has ended its eighteen-month Next Billion Users campaign in the largest city in West Africa, Ibadan, Oyo State. Google started the Next Billion Users (NBU), an initiative with the goal of making products for emerging markets like Africa, and helping more people to be on the Internet about five years ago.

Recognising the importance of carrying the locals along in reaching the NBU target, a group of Google researchers recently completed the 18-month survey in Ibadan, Oyo State to better understand how people use the web, their challenges and the future of mobile Internet.

The next billion users are going to come from India, Indonesia, Brazil, Nigeria, and others but being mobile-first, non-English, and often data constrained, they need a different set of product experiences, aligned to their needs and their lifestyles-mobile first

Making its way to the heart of new users, a new ‘offline first’ YouTube app was introduced. This, the American firm says, has been in the works for some years now. The Internet giant also made its much-awaited Google Go Search app available worldwide. The launch marks an important milestone in the company’s push to enhance video and voice search online. Google Go Search is a redacted version of Google Search, and it’s lightweight at only 7 Megabyte (MB). The app is specifically designed to make it possible for people with low-powered devices to search for anything online.


NBU launch follows an admission by Google that the next billion Internet users will want to avoid text search at all costs.

The app is also ideal for people with cheap data plans in emerging markets. The move comes at a time when tech giants have to rethink their products to target newcomers online.

By making it easy and affordable for people in these countries to search for anything online, Google also supports voice search.

In addition to offering affordable Internet services, Google has also resorted to slimming down its popular apps. Gmail Go is a good example: it’s designed to provide people in emerging markets with access to email.

Similarly, the company likewise unveiled Android Go, an operating system for low-powered devices. The provision of increased access via free Internet connections, slimmed mobile apps and a simple operating system reflects Google’s growth strategy.

Still on research to know more suitable ways to meet new users demand, the result eventually will enable the search engine giant design the kind of products that will work for the people and help them achieve their goals.

So far, the project has been to five countries, including India, Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria, and others; 10 regions in total across those five countries. And according to Google User Experience Researcher, Tracey Lindsay Chan, Google has launched some products that are specifically made for people who don’t have as much experience with the Internet, where they can interact with the Internet in different ways. One example is Google Go. “Google Go takes one of our flagships product of search, but it makes it much easier to find what you are looking for.”


“We’ve spent two years collecting a lot of data, and I think an ambassadorial programme is a very interesting idea and it could be one of our recommendations. But we are working on the trends from across the world to make an informed decision. Our decisions are going to be based on very deep and strong insights.” The result eventually will enable the search engine giant design the kind of products that will work for the people and help them achieve their goals.”

She added, “We have worked quite a bit with some product teams, such as Google Go, and LensGo to implement some of the early learning that we feel very confident about before we finished the entire study.

Speaking with The Guardian, Product Design Strategist at Google, Garen Checkley, at the final visit of the group to Ibadan, alluded to the fact that for Google to meet the next billion users, the locals remain an important aspect, as majority of them are making an attempt to explore the Internet for the first time or do not have an idea of how the Internet work.


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