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Nordic firms' mobile lag 'insane': Google exec

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16:10 CET+01:00
Businesses in Sweden and the Nordic region are behind the curve when it comes to adapting to the explosion of mobile devices, a top Swedish executive at Google said in Stockholm on Tuesday.

Speaking at a conference in Stockholm, Gustav Radell, head of marketing for Google Sweden, explained that his company had seen huge growth in the number of searches performed on mobile devices.

"We thought the mobile revolution was here last year, but if you look at search, it has more than doubled on mobile since last year," Radell said during a talk at the SIME 2012 conference.

"We predict that next year more people will be connecting to the internet via mobile devices than from desktop devices."

Radell went on to explain that mobile use of video sharing site YouTube, which is owned by Google, has more than tripled since last year, proving further that more and more people are using smartphone and tablet computers to get online.

Despite the obvious growth in mobile device use among internet users, Radell added that companies in Sweden and the Nordic region, places often thought of as being on the forefront of all things digital, are lagging behind in adjusting to the increase in mobile web surfing.

"The interesting fact is that the number of Nordic businesses who can provide users with a decent experience on mobile [phones] is only five percent," he said.

"That's insane."

E-commerce is another unexploited opportunity for Nordic small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), according to Radell, who said that while 70 percent have websites, only seven percent actually sell something online.

Radell urged companies to beef up their mobile sites to make it easier for them to be found through searches on mobile devices as well as offer users better mobile surfing experiences.

"And if you have loyal customers, have an app so you can have a continuous relationship with them," he added.

Google is "definitely going mobile first" in developing its core products, said Radell, adding that web-capable mobile phones now occupy a special and increasingly important place in people's lives.

"The mobile phone is this magical portal between the physical world and the digital world," he said.

"You can go from the physical world and into the digital world to find more information and when you find something interesting on your phone, or a fabulous store you want to visit, the mobile phone can take you there through a map, for example."

Radell also offered up some ideas about what Stockholm needs to do to ensure that it remains an attractive destination for talented tech workers and companies.

He first emphasized the importance of having local universities with "top-notch" teachers, as well as the need to make the Swedish capital a friendly place for venture capitalists to invest in new companies.

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"The government should also provide all kinds of stimuli to make sure we can become the best in a couple of things," said Radell.

He emphasized that Sweden shouldn't strive to be good at everything, but that a decision needed to be made that would allow the country to shine in comparison to other countries.

"If Sweden is going to stand for something then we need to stand out in these areas and make the investments, otherwise we'll be left hopelessly behind," the Google executive said.

David Landes

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