Does Google see UK developers as unimportant?

This morning Google announced a number of new developer events around the world, and, as a result of what was announced, it would appear that the UK will not see a high profile Google developer event this year, which seems odd to me.

If you look at London (which most would consider the UKs’ strongest candidate for an event) it’s the most populated city in Europe with over double the population of its’ nearest rival (Berlin), has one of the worlds busiest international transport hubs (Heathrow Airport, the only european airport in the top 5 for passenger throughput), is home to Googles second largest engineering center outside the US (after Zurich), and if Google did fly people in from Mountain View there would be no language barrier.

So where did Google choose for the western Europe developer day? Berlin.

I have heard talk of the reason being its’ proximity to Zurich (Googles largest non-US engineering facility), but given the difference in fight time between Zurich and Berlin and Zurich and London is less than 30 minutes, and adding people from Zurich to the team already in London would combine the talent from the two largest non-US engineering centres, that argument seems a little thin.

The other reason  could be Germanys population. It has the largest population of any country in Europe, but that, as anyone will tell you, isn’t a good reason to hold an event in a single city. Germanys’ population is spread throughout the county (as can be seen in a population density map). To get a population equivalent to that of Londons’ you have to take the entire regions of Berlin and Saxony states. If population accessibility actually was the reason it would make more sense to hold the event in Dusseldorf which has a larger “local” population.

The only thing that seems to be the reason is habit. Berlin has hosted a GDD several times in the last few years, so maybe Google just finds it easier to repeat the process from previous years, but that’s little comfort to any developer who has to find the time and money to go to Berlin each year.

(As pointed out in the comments, I was mistaken about previous GDDs being in Berlin, they were, in fact, in Hamburg (2007) and Munich (2008 & 2010), so even habit can’t be the reason.)

So the main event isn’t in the UK (and hasn’t been held in the UK since 2008), so what about the smaller events (e.g. the newly announced DevFests)?

It seems Google doesn’t want to hold one of those in the UK either. Paris and Barcelona both get events, but, again, the UK misses out. Could population again be a factor?, well, France’s population is around 3 to 4 million larger than the UK, but Spains population is around 15 million less. Paris’s population is less than a third of London’s, and Barcelona’s is around a fifth.

In light of this I’d be interested to hear what people think is the reason for Google holding events in Berlin, Paris, and Barcelona, and nothing in the UK, because, at the moment, it seem to me that it’s more about Google not wanting to support and encourage UK developers than it is about anything else.

25 thoughts on “Does Google see UK developers as unimportant?

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  1. The reason I hear from other companies (Facebook, for example) is that Berlin is easy to get to by rail, particularly from Eastern Europe. Seems like a good reason to me.

    But whether there should be events in the UK is a completely different question. And the answer to that one is yes, of course there should!

  2. Yes, I think they should hold the event in Düsseldorf too (NRW rocks).

    Germany is very much in the centre of Europe in you don’t have a London centric/western European bias. London has its own problems with overcrowding.

  3. The Android Market team, which I assume is US based see no need for the tablet section on the front of the UK android market for tablets. I think that summaries Google’s attitude towards the UK quite well.

    1. Could very well be that Google do not see the need for a UK-specific event, because being a english language nation it can be considered a extension of the US market. And this may not be the only US company that takes said view, as it seems the availability of a common language makes US companies consider a UK product availability while the rest of Europe is ignored.

  4. There has never been a GDD in Berlin! The last one was in Munich! There have been some 1 Day Android only events here. And yes, it is known Google engineers like to hang out after these Events in the local hackerspace C-Base which gives us a little advantage 🙂

  5. Seems to me like they’re trying to broaden their influence by going to some new places. Besides, as was already said, London isn’t very practical for most Europeans to reach (the city itself being a logistical nightmare), as opposed to Berlin or Paris. Besides, the you Londoners can go to Barcelona for once, it’ll do you good. I know how you hate Paris.

    1. I did Barcelona a couple of years ago for MWC, and Paris recently for a business meeting. To be honest neither seemed much better than London to me in terms of logistics.

  6. I think they also take in account the number of developers and the way they are distributed across Europe. And, to be honest, I was expecting to see this happening in Dusseldorf.
    And take also in account the events that happened in London in the past weeks 😉 London is a dangerous city.

  7. London is no more dangerous than any other city. I’d bet you could have had a conference here during the riots and nobody involved in the conf would have been hurt or otherwise involved unless they chose to go out to the affected areas.

  8. One factor could be simple … cost! Food & lodging costs in London are crazy-high, compared to other European cities.

    This is from the top of my head: for the price of a 1-star hotel in London, in Berlin I get a 3-star hotel in Berlin with breakfast included, and walking distance from the city center.

  9. For events that want to have a European-wide audience, and not just a local or national one, London has some already noted disadvantages:

    – Prices and having to convert your money (no Euro)
    – Reachability: an Island at one extreme of Europe (but Spain isn’t much better in this respect)

    I would add that the generally anti-European attitude i that is very widespread in the UK could also play a role.

  10. Let’s look at the United States for a second.

    If you look at New York it’s the most populated city in the US with over double the population of its’ nearest rival (Los Angeles), has TWO of the worlds busiest international transport hubs (JFK and NWK), is home to Googles second largest engineering center in the US (after the Bay Area), and if Google did fly people in from Mountain View there would be no language barrier.

    You would think that Google would host a large developer event in NYC, but they do not. They expect developers to travel 3000 miles and 3 timezones to the West Coast for their events. They same goes for most conferences. The developer community in NYC+DC+Boston easily surpasses the west coast, but very few conferences are held here.

    1. In the US they get people to fly to their largest engineering centre. In Europe they don’t ask people to go to Zurich (the largest engineering centre in Europe), they seem to pick other places.

  11. This is an interesting game to play:
    Q: Say you have budget for ~4 international (non-US) developer days. Stick 4 pins in the map for where you would hold your events to have the greatest reach…

    Using world population maps, I would choose north east India, east coast china (say Shanghai), central Europe (technically Poland, so I’ll stick with Berlin) and then it’s a choice between Panama, Brasil and central Africa (depending on how you weigh their relative importance).

    Maps:
    http://xahlee.org/Periodic_dosage_dir/i/map/world_pop.png
    http://www.acceleratingfuture.com/michael/blog/images/population_density_map.png

    I’m sure Google have their own data to work from.

  12. Seems a wasted opportunity to have two Dev Days in Central Europe just over 200 miles apart (Berlin and Prague) but none in Western Europe. Probably would have made more sense to cover a wider area with the events by staging one further west (doesn’t have to be London, could have been Paris, Brussels or Amsterdam).

  13. from wikipedia
    london metropolitan pop 14 million
    paris metropolitan pop 12 million

    When you quote things as extrem as “Paris’s population is less than a third of London’s” , maybe check the number next time hey 🙂

    1. In the side bars for each city wikipedia says 2,211,297 (Paris), and 7.825,200 (London) for the administritive areas covered by each city.

      Even given your figures London is still larger than Paris, so the part of the post about city size still holds.

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