SINGAPORE (05/03/2007) – Google Inc. formally opened an office in Singapore on Thursday, a long anticipated move that signals the company has its eyes on Southeast Asia.

Google’s intentions to set up shop in Singapore have been known for months. In February, Richard Kimber, Google’s managing director of sales and operations in Southeast Asia, told Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper that the company wanted to open an R&D center.

Despite Kimber’s reported comments and an online list of Google job openings in Singapore, the company declined to detail its plans at that time, saying it had nothing to announce.

The list of Singapore jobs posted on Google’s Web site hints that the company hopes to base dozens of workers in Singapore. The site lists a range of jobs, many of them sales positions tied to the company’s AdWords advertising service. A recruitment posting for the director of an engineering center that was open in February was still listed and the position appears to remain unfilled. In addition to the Singapore jobs, Google is also hunting for a consultant with experience in Indonesia, the world’s fourth most-populous country and the largest in Southeast Asia.

Google has struggled to repeat its U.S. success in Asia. The company lags far behind Internet search rivals in key markets, such as China and Japan, despite investing heavily in those markets.

Whether Southeast Asia turns out to be any different remains to be seen. Apart from Singapore, which is wealthy but has a tiny population, the region is generally considered an emerging market and Internet and PC penetration remain relatively low. Rival Yahoo Inc. also has a well-established footprint in the region.

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