The majority of companies in the Middle East do not run a mobile website platform and as a consequence are not capitalising on the region’s high mobile and internet penetration rates.
That’s the view of Mohamad Mourad, Google’s regional manager in the Gulf, who warned local companies that having an app for their business is not enough on its own.
“Most companies don’t have mobile websites, it’s a very big problem. Companies need to have both an app and a mobile site,” said Mourad, speaking at a Google event in Dubai on Wednesday.
“Typically users are faster than companies [at demanding mobile sites] so companies need to catch up.”
A recent report by Ericsson showed Middle East telecom operators witnessed eight million new subscribers during Q1 of this year, while mobile phone penetration rate across the region now stands at 109 per cent.
According to Mourad, 83 per cent of the ‘Arab digital generation’ log online every day, with 40 per cent spending more than five hours surfing the web.
“With multiple devices today – laptops, tablets, smartphones – ideally companies will use a site that adopts to a changing screen size,” said Mourad.
“Today’s technology is the cause; you can be more creative on your smartphone today than you can on a computer platform.
“Also it’s very important to have Arabic sites. Saudi Arabia has a good concentration of Arabic sites and options but the UAE is still quite low.”
The Google event, in collaboration with Middle East Communication Network, highlighted the region’s love of YouTube and how the advertising industry is relying more and more on online videos.
“The Middle East has the second highest consumption rates on YouTube in the world, second only behind the United States, with 285 million hits a day,” said Mourad. “Two hours of video are uploaded every minute from this region.”
Also speaking at the event, Ari Kesisoglu, Google’s director for the MENA region, suggested YouTube might in the future cater to the growing phenomenon of short videos as have been recently launched on popular platforms Instagram and Vine.
“If users want more and more short videos, Google will cater to their needs,” said Kesisoglu. “Our success is dependent on our ability to cater towards our users’ needs.”