A lot can be said about the success of Google, how the company largely took over the lucrative internet search business from one-time internet darling Yahoo!, and many of Google’s other success stories are the stuff college case studies are made of.
Here in Peru I noticed one more reason why Google became so successful: Google speaks Quechua.
Quechua is a native Indian language spoken here in the Andes region, it is believed to date back well before the Incas’ time. Today Quechua is an official language in Peru, it is spoken by the native Indian, typically rural, population in both Peru and Bolivia.
Of course lots of websites are available in different languages, that in itself is not the point. But think about this quote from Umair Haque’s Smart Growth Manifesto:
“Outcomes, not income. Dumb growth is about incomes – are we richer today than we were yesterday? Smart growth is about people, and how much better or worse off they are – not merely how much junk an economy can churn out.”
The significance of Google’s Quechua site is that I can’t imagine Google sees any substantial revenue from it.
I don’t say this to put down the Quechua language, but simply because most of the native population who speak Quechua also speak Spanish, and they revert from one language to the other seamlessly, with Spanish typically spoken in the cities and used in business.
Cost/benefit is an entirely different concept from revenue/cost. Even though Google may not see much revenue from its Quechua site, thanks to Google lots of schoolkids in little towns all over Peru can read and search information in their native language.
I believe it’s well past time to stop managing companies like we did during the era of supply-side economics in the 20th century. In the 21st century, businesses will find opportunity when they do things because it’s the right thing to do, when the outcome is something you would be proud of.
Kids in rural Peru whose native language is Quechua learn Spanish in school.