A delegation from YouTube and Google.org, the company’s philanthropic arm, just flew to Pakistan to “explore business and content opportunities.” The trip, writes YouTube News chief Steve Grove on the Google blog, was inspired in part by the company’s pledge of $1 million to the country following its floods, as part of its commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative.
Googlers have been taking a number of trips to the Middle East, including one to Iraq this past fall, to see how they can help accelerate technology and Internet adoption in the area. Very few Pakistanis are online–only about 10 percent–but one of the keys to growing that number, Grove writes, is the amount of local Pakistani content available on the Internet. That’s where YouTube comes in.
A YouTube channel sponsored by Coke that features popular Pakistani musicians, called Coke Studio, became so popular last summer that it was the 11th most-viewed channel on the site. And, Grove says, in a country whose television airwaves were barred to non-state owned channels until eight years ago, news organizations have been using YouTube to reach both Pakistanis at home and those living abroad.
Google tools were also used in the wake of this July’s floods, which at their worst covered a fifth of the country’s total land and affected more than 20 million people–more than the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean and this year’s earthquake in Haiti combined. Both the Pakistani army and relief organizations used Google MapMaker to track flood response efforts.
Grove says Google will be back: “This was the largest delegation of Googlers ever to visit Pakistan, and we’re looking forward to continued engagement in the region.”