Does the search engine's power
threaten the Web's independence?
"We try to offer a local site to as many users around the world as possible," Frost explained. "From Singapore to Finland and the United Arab Emirates, the number of countries we cover is changing every week, and Australia is the latest to go live."
Preferring to stick to a soft launch, Frost said she could not make any further announcements regarding the company's intentions in the Australian market until the start of 2003. However, it would seem that the company plans to open up a Sydney-based operation in Australia--it has begun advertising for employees on its Web site.
"We hope to make a big announcement early in the new year, but at this stage all I can say is that the site has gone live," Frost said.
In the search business, Google has become ato be reckoned with, as a destination in its own right and as the engine behind both Yahoo and AOL searches. It has also been on an bent of late, introducing its ad-buying program in countries including the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan.
Australian Web businesses have welcomed the move, pointing out that the indigenous search facility will boost traffic to Australian sites, given the popularity of the engine.
Predicting his business may grow as much as 30 percent to 40 percent in the coming months as a result of Google's presence in the country, Anthony Dever, managing director of Queensland-based hosting company Hosting Buzz, welcomed the news.
"Australian Web site marketers will benefit greatly, they can now optimize their sites to achieve higher listings on search engine results pages while not having to compete with international companies," Dever said.
"Google's users will be able to get more relevant search engine results when looking for Australian information by not having to sift through less relevant international information," he said. "However, it still allows the flexibility to search internationally when required."Jeanne-Vida Douglas reported from Sydney.