In a recent post, we saw that consumers in Asia Pacific have leapfrogged the desktop internet and entered a mobile-first world. For anyone who lives in the region, this has wide-ranging implications both online and offline. Let’s take a look at just one area: shopping.

In Asia, shopping starts on smartphones
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Source: The Consumer Barometer, 2014

In Asia, shopping starts on smartphones; shoppers use smartphones when deciding what to buy. Almost half (49%) of Korean web shoppers do this. Other countries, including developing markets like Vietnam and Malaysia, are in the 40% range. Compare this to the ~20% figures seen in the West and you can see a clear Asian trend towards smartphone shopping research.

Let’s go a little deeper and look at how consumers use their smartphones for researching products. Taking just one example, home appliances — things like ovens, fridges or kettles — this is the picture that emerges:

Mobile even brings the web inside home appliance shops
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Source: The Consumer Barometer, 2014

This chart illustrates the phenomenon sometimes called ‘showrooming’ — where shoppers who are standing in a shop check their phones to make sure they are getting the best deal. What this means for businesses is that the Internet is even in brick-and-mortar shops.

What stands out for me here is that this trend isn’t happening just in ultra-connected South Korea, it’s happening right across Asia — with (for home appliances at least) an emerging country like Vietnam out in front.

We’ve looked at the stages leading up to a sale, but what about people who actually purchase on their smartphones? This is not yet a firmly established global trend, but as with everything mobile, a few Asian countries are already leading the way:

In some Asian countries, shopping ends on smartphones, too
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Source: The Consumer Barometer, 2014
With the proliferation of devices out there, the paths consumers take from first thinking about what to buy to parting with their cash are complex. But what’s clear from this research is that, especially in Asia, mobile is an essential part of the journey.

A note on the research:
For more insights like these, head to where you can explore the results of our survey carried out by Taylor Nelson Sofres and Google across 46 countries covering device usage and online access, how people shop and watch and the role of digital in the path-to-purchase.

Posted by Simon Kahn, Chief Marketing Officer, Google Asia Pacific

Google is a member of the Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), a grouping of Internet companies set up in 2010 to promote the understanding of Internet policy issues in Asia Pacific.

The AIC created this video to highlight how restrictions on data flowing freely across borders impact businesses of every size. It features Pearlyn who runs a small business with customers all over the world. Like many of her peers, much of Pearlyn's business operation is built on global online platforms. However, when her government introduced rules limiting international data transfers, she was prevented from using these platforms and her business now faces a number of challenges. Take a look at the video to learn more.

Posted by William Fitzgerald, Policy Manager, Public Policy & Government Affairs, Google Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa & Russia

Cross-posted from the Google Australia blog 

From the snow-capped summit of Mount Kosciuszko, to the beaches at Bondi and the seafloor of the Great Barrier Reef, every person can explore our country’s most beautiful locations on Google Maps.

To celebrate the once-in-a-decade IUCN World Parks Congress that’s taking place in Sydney this week, we’ve partnered with New South Wales National Parks and Catlin Seaview Survey to bring 21 parks and 27 underwater locations across Australia to Street View.

Beyond Mount Kosciuszko, bushwalkers can take a virtual hike through Fort Denison, Dorrigo National Park, Ku-ring-gai Chase, Cape Byron lighthouse and 16 other parks across New South Wales.
At the summit of Mount Kosciuszko
At the summit of Mount Kosciuszko
Looking over the cannons at Fort Denison
Looking over the cannons at Fort Denison
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West Head Lookout at Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
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The view over Dorrigo National Park
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Dolphins off Myrmidon Reef

From the depths of Sydney Harbour to the iconic Bondi Beach and all along the Great Barrier Reef, we hope you enjoy exploring these locations from a whole new perspective.
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Beneath the waves at Bondi Beach

We hope this new Street View imagery not only inspires adventure, but that it also helps people to learn more about the delicate ecology of our parks and underwater worlds. 

India’s rich culture and landscapes have inspired many artists, and today, we’re proud to display an Indian student’s homage to an especially beautiful part of our country on Kids participating in this year’s Doodle4Google contest were encouraged to let their imagination run wild and submit a doodle inspired by a place in India they’d like to visit.

Our winner is 9th grader Vaidehi Reddy, from the Army Public School in Pune. She chose to depict the northeastern state of Assam, “because it is rich in both natural beauty and culture. Its music and rich folk arts are also very good.” Here’s her winning doodle, featuring Assam’s renowned tea, wildlife, and indigenous art:
final winner.jpg
And here are the doodles by the winners of each of the class groups:
Clockwise from top left:
Class 1 - 3 winner: “God's own country Kerala” by Sarvagjna Miriyala of DAV Public School, Panvel, Mumbai;
Class 4 - 6 winner: “Ooty's Beauty” by V Sai Latha Rani of Sri Prakash Vidyaniketan, Vizag;
Class 7 - 10 winner: “Heritage Glorified - Hampi” by Y Sai Greeshma of Sri Prakash Vidyaniketan, Vizag
Finalists of the 2014 Doodle4Google competition in India

Posted by Sandeep Menon, Country Marketing Manager, Google India

Yesterday in Dhaka our Google Bus began a twelve month journey of over 500 college and university campuses in 35 locations across Bangladesh.
The specially retrofitted bus with 3G Internet will hopefully help give half a million undergraduates a better sense of the power and utility of the Internet, and show them how to plan and collaborate in new ways. Following Dhaka, the bus will make its way to schools in and around major cities including Chittagong, Khulna, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Rangpur and Barisal. Stay informed about the Google Bus’ upcoming stops and keep in touch with other students who’ve taken part in the workshops on the Google Bus Bangladesh Community page.

We hope this program equips the country’s next generation of entrepreneurs with the digital tools that will empower them to start and grow their own projects and businesses online.

Posted by James McClure, Country Manager, Emerging Markets, Google Asia Pacific

Just three years in, participants in our “Global K-Startup” initiative to help expand the business scope of promising Korean startups are flourishing. According to the Korean Internet & Security Agency, the eleven startups that went through the five-month program in 2012 and 2013 have attracted investments worth a total of US$15 million.

The winners of the 2014 Global K-Startup program have returned from a two week trip to Silicon Valley and New York, where they participated in workshops, met potential investors and built relationships with entrepreneurs, and got tips from YouTube founder Steve Chen.
Top: Global K-Startup winners with YouTube founder Steve Chen;
Bottom: Workshops with 500 Startups, accelerators and venture capitalists in Silicon Valley

Here are the six winners that were selected among 568 teams, ranging from e-commerce to health care service providers. Keep an eye out for them as they make waves in the startup community—in Korea and overseas.

  • Snapshop makes cross-border e-commerce easier and faster, offering customers a simplified payment, shipping and delivery experience
  • Genoplan offers a genetic analysis toolkit and service to extract DNA from saliva to provide personalized health care treatments
  • Let’s Fold is a mobile app that reimagines the art of origami (the tradition of paper folding), enabling players to compete, share and connect with their friends over social platforms
  • Notivo keeps track of information and events happening online around the world, and sends automatic notifications to users
  • Gamchen enables gamers to broadcast their games to their friends and other users in realtime
  • FromDL is a private social network aimed at supportting carers of children with nevus

The 2014 Global K-Startup Award ceremony in Seoul

Posted by Lois Kim, Head of Communications and Jae-Hoon Chung, Senior Public Policy Counsel, Google Korea

The Philippines has long been susceptible to extreme weather patterns, with an average of 20 tropical storms making landfall each year. In times of crisis, it’s vital that useful information is available to as many people as possible. This is why we’re launching Public Alerts in the Philippines to make accurate and relevant alerts more accessible during typhoon season.

Going forward, typhoon alerts will appear on the Google Public Alerts page and across Google Search, Google Maps and Google Now. In the event of a typhoon, searching for related information on Google Search or Maps on your desktop or mobile device will result in a warning like the one below.
A Google search for “typhoon” will result in an alert

And you can click on the alert to find out more information including the projected area of impact, estimated time of arrival, and advice on what to do to stay safe.
Details shown in a Public Alert

On Android and iOS devices, Google Now will display a card with alert information and any official evacuation instructions to users who are located in affected areas.
Mock Public Alert on Google Now for typhoon warning

We’re able to provide Public Alerts in the Philippines thanks to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). Their partnership and commitment to providing data to the public enables Google and others to make critical and life-saving information more widely available.

We look forward to expanding Google Public Alerts to more countries and working with more warning providers. We encourage potential partners to read our FAQ and to consider using an open format for their data, such as the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP). To learn more about Public Alerts, please visit our Public Alerts homepage.

Posted by Meryl Stone, Strategic Partnerships, Google Crisis Response