It's not that far away, and it's growing fast. And Google knows it.
I'm actually headed down to Mexico in three weeks to get married, in Cabo San Lucas. A two-to-four-hour flight from just about anywhere in the United States, Mexico is quickly becoming a major player on the Internet.
Wireless cafes are popping up everywhere, and if you head to the Google Apps marketplace, you'll find three pages of Google Apps resellers in Mexico.
One of the few Latin American countries with no Internet censorship, Mexico has nearly 30% of the population using the Internet, according to 2012 World Bank Data. Sure it doesn't match Canada's 77.7%, or the USA's 78%, but it sure beats, say, Ecuador's 14.4%, and it only lags a bit behind Brazil's 39.3%. (82% of Mexico's Internet-using population is on Facebook - not a big surprise).
So, if you're a U.S. company that's looking for dedicated resources to a Mexican Google Apps implementation, it finally exists. It appears that some of these Google VARs even offer training. But the ties between Google and Mexico now go deeper.
On January 31, the Mexican government and Google launched a joint partnership, Connecta Tu Negocio (Connect Your Business) aimed at giving small and medium businesses free websites and a $50 Google AdWords credit to promote their services and products on Google.
Yes, it is in Spanish
It's pretty cool really, Google has taken this advertising initiative originally aimed at small businesses in the USA, and turned it into a partnership with the Mexican government. Here's why.
If these businesses are successful with Google AdWords, they're more likely to become Google Apps customers right out of the gate, just due to the "trust" factor. Secondarily, they have much less established infrastructure, so they're a much easier sell for Google Apps than, say, the typical 20-person company in the USA, who may have existing Microsoft infrastructure.
This year, in Mexico, I think we're going to see Internet adoption creep closers to matching Brazil's numbers, as mobile Internet connections continue to decline in price. The Telcel-Google relationship will be one to watch here, as they're largely the monopolistic carrier in Mexico. That said, however, their unlimited Internet plans are dropping to prices as low as $41/month, which are within reach of many middle and lower-middle class Mexicans. (Since the late 1990s, Mexico's middle class has been growing swiftly, and a typical Mexican middle-class salary is $7,558 to $54,000 - a wide range.)
Google lacks a physical presence in Baja California, but, like most large software or advertising companies, Google has a Mexico City office. From a quick glimpse at my LinkedIn network, I think Google has 60 or so people working in Mexico.
2012 is going to be a big year for AdWords and Google Apps in Mexico. Don't expect any Genentech-sized Google Apps implementations south of the border, but don't be surprised if you see thousands of small businesses going Google - the economic incentives are in place.
Adam Metz is the VP of Business Development at Metz Consulting the social concept, a social customer management-consulting firm, based in Oakland, California. Metz has consulted with companies since 2006 on how to acquire, manage, monetize and retain customers from the social web. Metz's customer community, at http://metz.customerhub.net has nearly 500 members, and offers a no-cost 9-hour training course on social customer relationship management.Metz's second book, The Social Customer, was released on 9/16/11 and has hit #1 on the Amazon marketing charts. Adam's first book, There Is No Secret Sauce, has sold or downloaded over 3000 copies, and is currently in its third printing. He has additionally published an eBook, The Metz Way.Metz specializes in social media marketing and social customer relationship management (social CRM) for awesome consumer brands and loves lifestyle, travel, apparel and consumer-packaged goods (CPG) companies.Metz has consulted with nearly 100 consumer and B2B companies, including Hershey's Chocolate, Waggin' Train Pet Food, Wente Vineyards (top 30 winery) Pirate's Booty, MBT Shoes, Maestroconference, Obama Girl (Barely Political), Lynda.com, Passport Resorts, Hollywood Park Racetrack, The San Francisco Convention and Visitor's Bureau, Mighty Leaf Tea, Timbuk2 bags, and dozens of others. Adam Metz also worked on the first social media program for Pulitzer-Prize winning author Thomas Friedman.Metz has lectured at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Washington, and University of California, Santa Cruz and has given keynote talks at numerous conferences and associations including the California and Minnesota Chapters of the American Marketing Association, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, the Western Association of Convention & Visitors Bureau Technology Conference, and the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association.Metz lives in Oakland, California with his fiancee Susan.