The state of Digital in France and How Google is ‘Building Great Things That Don’t Exist’*?

On 6th March, Nick Leeder, MD of Google France’s spoke to ABIE members about the exciting world of digital in which we live. As individuals, we have all become used to being constantly connected through the use of mobile devices; Mobile now makes up almost 40% of YouTube’s total watchtime”. We are also participating in the evolution of the web as a space for video with 6 billion hours of video are watched monthly across the world. France is one of the top 5 markets globally for Google, but whilst the French are using internet products as much as anywhere in the world, French business is lagging behind. This presents an opportunity for innovation at the corporate level and change in the market here.

Nick referred to companies like SNCF and Cdiscount as very sophisticated in their use of the web, but said only 43% of small French businesses have a website in comparison to 80% in the UK. Research shows that companies with websites export more and grow more quickly.

It is anticipated that the next 5 years will see a transformation in the use of digital in France as more and more sectors move towards conducting their business with consumers on-line. ‘It is important that in the social debate over use of the web, we don’t lose sight of the economic importance of digital’.

Nick went on to talk about Google’s progression into new and exciting areas such as the world of art and health and well-being. Google’s ‘Institute Culturel’, unique to Paris is working in a complimentary way with museums to offer ‘virtual’ visits and unique ways of looking at art.

Project ‘Loon’ has sent solar powered balloons with 3G network connectivity into the air in areas of the developing world where connectivity is low.

Google Fiber, launched in Kansas two years ago has put truly high-speed internet into areas of high consumption.

Google Glass offers voice controlled internet access and vision and the idea of connection through a contact lens is being explored.

‘It’s a very interesting time to be alive’ said Nick, ‘as science fiction becomes reality’.

*Larry Page, Founder and CEO of Google