Users in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's Etihad-Etisalat Mobily network have reason to rejoice, as the consortium signs a deal with Google for unlimited use of Google services. The service, named Connect Google, will give subscribers access to sites such as Gmail, YouTube, Google+, Google Maps and other services.
The strategic partnership is the first of its kind in the Middle East, with Google providing access to subscribers through Mobily Connect. The merged offering, called the Connect Google Package, gives subscribers several options for gaining access to content from Google. These include either a 1GB or 5GB Connect Mobile package for use with smartphones or tablets, or a 2GB or 5GB access plan for Connect USB.
Google Services Popular in Middle East
According to the Opera State of the Mobile Web report for 2011, Google services are among the most popular in the Middle Eastern region, with Google and YouTube among the top three sites in the top Middle-Eastern countries. Mobile use in the region has increased by 142% from 2010 to 2011, with pageviews increasing by 233%.
Aside from natural traffic and usage growth, Opera likewise attributes the increase in traffic and usage to the various social scenarios in the region, in which social networking and social media are playing a big part in how the socio-political landscape is being shaped. For instance, Facebook and Twitter usage surge with political rallies and protests in some Central Asian and North African countries.
Big Advertising Potential in Region
But it's not just social unrest and political tensions that bring about those eyeballs from mobile users. Mobile advertising in the region is also at a rapid growth, as indicated by an InMobi Mobile Insights report. According to the findings, users from the Middle East have seen a 135% growth in smartphone ad impressions in just three months. In May 2011, 875 million ads were served on smartphones. In the region, smartphone ads now represent 65% of mobile ads.
With increased access to markets like these, Google seems to be on the winning end of the bargain. Unlimited access to Google services, coupled with a mobile-savvy user base, will rake in those much-needed viewers for its own advertising network.