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Asia becomes Google's fastest-growing market amid overall slowdown

Google Play and YouTube Music take off in region but leadership questions remain

The Asia Pacific is now the fastest growing market for Alphabet   © AP

PALO ALTO, U.S. -- The Asia-Pacific region is now the fastest-growing market for Google's parent company Alphabet as the tech giant reported its slowest overall revenue growth since 2015 on Monday. The region outperformed all other markets, with a near 30% year-on-year growth in revenue.

"The Asia-Pacific continues to be a very strong performer," said Ruth Porat, chief financial officer of Alphabet and Google, in the earnings call. "We are very excited about the opportunities in the region across the board."

The good news from Asia contrasted with a slowdown in Alphabet's biggest markets -- the U.S. and Europe -- and pressure from rivals on its advertising business.

The Asia-Pacific generated $6.1 billion in revenue for Alphabet in the first quarter, up 27% from a year earlier. That translates to 16.8% of the company's $36.3 billion total revenue.

In comparison, revenue from the U.S. and Europe grew 17% and 13%, respectively. The regions had logged more than 20% growth in the previous few quarters.

Google Play and YouTube Music have been particularly benefiting from the Asia-Pacific market, company management said in the call. For example, India quickly became the fastest-growing market for YouTube Music since its launch in the country in March, Alphabet said.

Despite the healthy growth in Asia, however, Alphabet's overall revenue falling about $1 billion short of consensus analyst estimates.

Moreover, the company is facing a number of uncertainties in Asia. Google recently reshuffled its top executives in the region and is yet to fill the empty leadership positions in its two biggest Asian markets: India and China.

Rajan Anandan, Google's vice president for Southeast Asia and India, announced in early April that he is leaving the company after eight years, and a replacement has yet to be found.

Four months earlier, Google lost Karim Temsamani, its head of Asia-Pacific, who had been in charge of operations in the region since 2013. The role is held by Scott Beaumont, who previously ran Google in China and Korea.

The overall slowdown in revenue growth, meanwhile, is partly due to increasing competition in Google's advertisement business, which is facing mounting pressure from other ad platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Amazon.

The company reported $30.2 billion in advertisement revenue for the quarter. That works out to a 15% increase on the year, far slower than the 24% year-on-year growth logged in the same quarter of 2018. It is also the lowest year-on-year growth rate in the segment since the third quarter of 2015.

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