13:46 | 06.12.13 | Interviews | exclusive 3507
Divon Lan is from Google's Next Wave Emerging Countries team, and is in Armenia to understand country’s IT infrastructure and the services that Google can provide for Armenian people.
-Mr. Lan, the aim of your trip to Armenia is to get a better idea about Armenia's technological eco system. What type of research have you already done and what are the conclusions?
- Google is a special company. Basically, most companies in the world are created to make money, which is normal. Google has a special mission. Its mission is to bring information from all over the world to everybody, to each citizen of this world. We are on the way of realizing our mission. I think in Armenia nearly half of the people are using the internet. But what about the other half? That's a big question. We are thinking what to do to make more people have access to information. So I came here to find out how Google can contribute with Armenia. Still in the process of thinking, no conclusions for this moment.
-You have already met with different specialists, representers of different organizations.
-I tried to meet with people from different organizations, who differ from each other. They are both small and big companies, software developers.
-How Google can encourage startups in Armenia?
-It's really great to see so many great ideas here in Armenia. I attended an event here in Yerevan with startups, and saw it with my own eyes. Its great for 2 reasons- first, Armenia is a country that has small population, is far away from big markets, so technology industry is just perfect for Armenia. You can be anywhere in Armenia, develop a software and send it to costumers. The second thing is that it helps more people to start using the internet. Yes, Yerevan is the center and many educated people here use internet, but the farmer from a village who speaks only Armenian, doesn't understand why he must use that Internet, and that's where the local technology companies are really important. We are trying to make it easier and less expensive for people to create such companies. We have many services which are free for software developers. It makes easy for them to create internet services. We also give distribution channel, like the Android market, which helps people to sell their products and get customers from all over the world.
-You work closely with Google Developer Group in Armenia.
-Yes, actually Google developer Group in Yerevan is an independent group. It doesn't depend on Google but it works closely with Google. Through them we try to teach software developer community how to use Google tools to develop their software faster and cheaper.
-What are the primary products that Google would like to import to Armenian market?
-People mostly know Google for its Google search, but Google also has products like Android, Gmail, Google Map, Youtube... Many of these products still don't work well in Armenia, because Armenian language is not supported or because of other problems. So there is a lot of work left for us. We need to fix those problems and make them work in Armenia properly.
-Can you name some obstacles which hinder technology development in Armenia?
-I think that there are some reasons for it. First of all lots of people in Armenia are quite poor and the cost of devices like iPhone, computers and the cost of Internet connectivity is still too high for them. Fortunately we already can see some local companies’ devices coming to the market. They are not from Google, but from companies which are focused on developing countries and suggesting cheaper products. The second thing is the issue of local content, which is really an issue of relevance. People may ask why this product is for me, why I need this. That's when the role of local companies becomes important. They must create products which are relevant to every segment of the population. And the third issue is the problem of Armenian language. Armenia is a very old country with a very rich culture. It has its own language with its own unique scripts. But this is another challenge that the technology industry needs to solve. Yes, it's going to be difficult, but that's not an excuse. We need to do it anyway.
-So during these days while you are in Yerevan, what are your impressions- do Armenians love technologies and use them in daily life?
-I can't talk basically about whole Armenia, but in Yerevan I saw that people love technologies very much and they love new cool gadgets. They are very entrepreneur. Lots of people are trying to find ways to start business. Armenia has also a good educational system in technologies. And it plays a big role too.
-Are there any Armenians working in Google headquarters at the moment?
-Sure they are. First of all they are good at what they do, and when we were choosing them, we did it for their knowledge, not for their nationality. But the side benefit is that in every country of the world people use Google. So these people besides their job, are also the ambassadors of Armenia in Google and they always make sure that Google is doing right things for Armenia.
-How to get hired for Google?
-We do not have an office in Armenia, but we hire people from all over the world. Getting involved in local Google Developer Group makes it possible to have some projects with Google. There are also many programs that Google is realizing for students, professors.
-Google doesn't have headquarters not only in Armenia, but the whole Caucasus region. Why?
-Actually, we don't have offices in most countries of the world. We have users, we have costumers, but no offices. One of the biggest advantages of Google is that we are an Internet company. So when you search in Google Armenia, there is no need for someone to sit in Armenia to support you. Everything in Google is free, you use Gmail for free, watch videos on Youtube for free. So having an office building is not so important for cooperation.
-Google search engine often represents different Doodles. I wonder, if there will be interesting ideas connected with Armenian culture, is there a chance that Google will use them too?
-Its a fun thing, not so much cultural. However, I am personally interested in history, and Armenian history, for example I was trying to find those ancient Armenian manuscripts online. And it's a big difficulty to find them online. I think it’s a problem which needs to be solved. That's the power of Internet. To get and research these old cultures, do some work to make them understandable and acceptable for modern society worldwide. Google very much values history and culture.
Interview by Narine Daneghyan.