Posts Tagged ‘google’

Google is making it even easier for Arabic speakers to search on their mobile phone…just by using their voice. Google has added Arabic support to its Voice Search product, which will support 10 regional Arabic dialects, allowing Arabic users to kick-start searches from their mobile phones without typing.

The Next Web has a good wrap up and describes how Google added this functionality.

Developed in-house by Google, the company worked with native speakers all over the region, teaching computers to understand the sounds and words in the Arabic language. The final stages took place in the US, with Google speech scientists refining the speech models that were provided by the native speakers.

After partnering with the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information during Ramadan to conduct its first live stream in the region, it’s clear Google sees the potential from increasing Arabic content in the region. It will be interesting to see if regional users return the favor with widespread adoption of Google+.

After watching this week’s tech news, I was reminded of the quote attributed (or some would argue mis-attributed) to Senator Everett Dirksen in the US, “A billion here, a billion there…pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” Well this week Google spent some real money and HP made a big announcement…on to the news.

Google announces purchase of Motorola Mobility for a cool $12.5 billion

If you’re reading this, it’s hard to imagine you could have missed the week’s biggest news. Much digital ink has already been spilled about the purchase, but I’d highly recommend this post from the Foss Patents blog – a good analysis that dives further into the idea that this isn’t just a patent play for Google.

Disclosure: Motorola is an Edelman client

HP shuts down webOS devices

Big news broke on Thursday as HP announced they will stop producing its TouchPad tablet and webOS phones. Check out full coverage at Engadget. HP also spent a few billion dollars of its own, spending $10.3 billion to acquire search software company Autonomy, at the same time as announcing it intends to spin off its PC division.

Disclosure: HP is an Edelman client

Twitter now more Arabic friendly

ArabCrunch covers good news for Arabic users of Twitter, which now enables right to left text. In the past, the standard setup was particularly challenging when combining English and Arabic text (when using English hashtags for example), but this problem has been addressed in the latest update.

Happy Oasis: A Farmville for the Middle East

On a personal note, I had the good fortune to meet Suleiman Bakhit, founder of Aranim, which has produced a Facebook game call “Happy Oasis” which some have described as an “Farmville for the Middle East.” Check them out on Facebook – interesting to see a local, Arabic-led design leading the charge into the social gaming sphere.

Facebook usage in the Middle East – Infographic style

Finally, in case you missed it blogger Wissam Dandan posted an interesting infographic breaking down how Facebook is used in the Middle East.

One interesting stat highlighted is the Middle East has the lowest female population on social media. While PRNewser tells us, “Women in the Digital Driver’s Seat,” the latest stats indicate there’s still room to grow here in this region.

Infographic By LEBSEO Design

Disclosure: Motorola, HP and RIM are Edelman clients.

Welcome again to our weekly edition of the hot and happening news from the digital world. This week has been really exciting for us, with the official launch of BlogLevel and re-launch of TweetLevel and all the conversations it stirred up around social influence, instantly after its launch. For more details, please check out our Arabian Bytes article here.

Below are some of the other interesting social media / digital stories that caught my eye this week:

Tweetback: Egypt’s first social-media driving fundraising

Tweetback is the very first of its kind social-media driven initiative to provide companies PR in exchange of their support of development projects in Egypt.

Tweetback was recently launched by Mahmoud Salem aka Sandmonkey on Twitter, who is inviting corporate companies, NGO and individuals to pledge donations for development projects that can make a positive impact on the lives of Egyptians. In exchange, tweetback’s network of some of the most influential bloggers and tweeters will advertise their contributions in Arabic and English through their network of nearly 250,000+ followers.

This clearly shows how online individuals are utilizing their influence to make valuable contributions and shape the society around them. For more details, please click here or follow the hashtag #tweetback.

Google Authorship

Google now has a new program that digital experts can implement on their websites, blogs, etc. to feature as published authors. “Authorship” markup integrates social media information into search results.

Google can now display your name and Google+ profile image besides content search results. Writers / bloggers can claim ownership of their work by tying the writing to their Google profile by adding a simple tag to their posts. For an example, take a look below and note the image on the right:

This was pretty much expected as Google first began to pull twitter data in search results and now has planned to tweak algorithms to support +1 and Google+. For more details, please click here.

Facebook introduces new Invite Friends tool to Page admins

If you’ve not noticed this new tool on your Page on Facebook, then you’re losing out on the opportunity to boost your Page’s visibility in a huge way.

This week Facebook brought back the “Invite Friends” tool back to Pages. Now, you can invite your friends to like your page and it appears as a notification in Facebook. Users can easily click through to the page and then Like it, via the notification. Below is how the notification looks like:

Previously the only way of promoting your Page to your friend was though recommendations (a lot of hard work) and these recommendations pretty much went un-noticed.

This is a great opportunity for Page admins to encourage page sharing among their friends, making it viral and this probably would affect the way people develop content moving forward.

It’s a short week for those of us in the UAE, but there’s still plenty to highlight in this special all-Google edition from the week that was.

Google Launches Google+

The much-hyped Google social network, dubbed Google+, is now open for a public beta and invites to the Google+ network are already going fast. Once inside, users will notice some striking similarities to Facebook, or as some commentators have uncharitably put it, a “clone.” Keep an eye on the growth of Google+ to see whether this is the next Gmail or the next Google Wave.

Saudi Arabia teams up with YouTube to bring videos to TV sets

The Next Web Middle East covers the announcement that Saudi Arabia has partnered with YouTube to allow users to watch YouTube videos on their TV without needing to use their phones or computers. Much digital ink has already been spilled about the convergence of TV and the Internet, and this announcement out of Saudi Arabia is another step in that direction.

Word of Mouth and the Internet

Finally, Google released a new study which (unsurprisingly) reaffirms the importance of search’s role in the approximately 3.3 billion brand mentions that happen in the US every day. While the study doesn’t contain Middle East specific data, it’s a good reminder that while Facebook is on the rise, Google still has an important role to play in today’s media environment. Moreover, if Google+ succeeds, combined with Android, YouTube, Google Voice and more, it’s clear Google will continue to be a force to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future.

Check out the study’s summary video here:

Welcome to our weekly edition of what’s hot in digital and social media. As always, the news and latest developments in the digital world have been overwhelming and really exciting. Here are some of the news pieces that caught my attention:

Mubarak fined for information shutdown

Hosni Mubarak was ousted in an uprising in Egypt in January 2011. A Cairo court yesterday fined the ousted president and two ex-ministers $US90 million for a mobile and internet shutdown during the uprising.

Egypt’s four main internet service providers and three mobile operators were instructed to suspend services and forced to abide by the Egyptian law. Read the full story here.

Google search goes global and +1:

In October 2009, Google launched its social search and got heaps of buzz all around the world. A few months later they rolled it in the main stream Google search result page. Last week Google announced that they are now rolling out the social search in 19 languages with more languages on their way.

Google also launched their much awaited +1 social button, much like the Facebook “Like”. Users who login to their Google profiles will be able to use the +1 button to endorse a particular piece of information.

These results will then appear next to search results and advertisements. This is another way for Google to collect valuable data, include peer recommendations in search results and taking word of mouth to the next level. All +1’s of any particular users are stored in a new tab on their Google profiles, which they may choose to make public or private. Read more about it here.

Follow us on Twitter:

Twitter follows suit and have asked 50 brands, including the Huff Post and Wall Street Journal to add the newly launched Twitter “Follow” Button to their websites.

This allows the website owners to stay connected with their visitors and possible increasing re-tweets, mentions and repeat visits.

The “Follow” Button can be easily added to your website from here. Grab the code and get people following instantly. Read more about the Button here.

Twitter photo-sharing service:

To no one’s surprise, Twitter is launching its photo-sharing service very soon which can possible bid farewell to third-party applications like TwitPic, YFrog, etc. Seems like a logical step for Twitter to add more features like this and improve the overall user experience.

I won’t be surprised to see a Twitter URL shortener soon. To read more, please click here.

Facebook Museum:

To wrap up the week, try Intel’s new cool Facebook app “The Museum of Me” here.

It’s simple – go to the page and sign in using your Facebook login. It then automatically fetches are the information from your profile and builds it into a Museum format which is visually amazing.

It’s all over the web and incredibly viral with over 90,000 Facebook ‘Likes’ already. Take a tour!

The spate of 2011 prediction articles that have been rolling out to mark the New Year make for some enjoyable reading. Below are some links to trends I’ve found particularly interesting. Of course, I couldn’t resist throwing in three of my own about the Middle East so here they are…

  1. Social buying heats up (more) in Middle East
    In an already crowded field including and, the granddaddy of social buying sites, Groupon, has recently launched a UAE site at A new site,, will also be getting into the act in Egypt and already there are at least 10 other competitors. Fresh off turning down a reported $6 billion offer from Google, Groupon’s entrance into the market means we’re likely to see even more competition as businesses embrace these sites. Good for consumers. Good for companies. Good for the Middle East. Win win win.

  2. Don’t forget about Google
    While Facebook’s $50 billion valuation recently made waves, Google can’t be ignored and our colleages David Armano and Steve Rubel think this is the year Google strikes back. From a Middle East perspective, this is undoubtedly true. Their “Health Speaks” campaign through is just one example of their commitment to building Arabic content and with their announcement that they plan to open 2-3 new MENA offices this year, their commitment to the region is clear. With digital advertising set to grow even more in the Middle East in both Arabic and English, Google is going to be blazing a trail in the region that others are sure to follow.

  3. Start learning Arabic
    Twitter announced it would be developing an Arabic interface in 2011, which will help fuel increased Twitter growth in the region. Carrington Malin points out that Facebook has added 5.7 million Arabic users since its Arabic interface launched in 2009, and that figure is likely to continue growing at a healthy clip. The increased importance of Arabic on social networks as well as on websites means more opportunities to develop Arabic content, advertise and market to the Arabic-speaking online population.

So there’s a few trends that I’ve been thinking about, but I’d encourage you to check out a few more interesting 2011 trend predictions below. We’ll be sure to stay tuned in January 2012 to see which ones pan out.

2011 Digital & Technology Predictions

Have other predictions for 2011 in the Middle East? We’d love to hear them so feel free to chime in.

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