Internet giant Google has named Austin its 2013 Texas eCity, declaring
that Central Texas businesses have a stronger online presence than their
counterparts elsewhere in the state.
Austin is the first U.S. city to get the eCity designation, Google spokesman Gerardo Interiano said, with winners in other states set to be made public over the next two weeks.
"This is our way to recognize the digital capitals of America," Interiano said. "Austin is such a great leader."
In selecting the 50 eCity winners, Google relied upon data collected by IPSOS, an independent research firm that looked at how businesses nationwide are using the Internet -- and not just Google products -- to grow and prosper, according to Interiano.
Frank, a high-end hot dog restaurant at 407 Colorado St. in downtown Austin's Warehouse District, is one of the businesses Google has singled out as a model for others to follow, previously featuring the popular eatery in Web videos and commercials.
"We use Google and a lot of their technology here at Frank and in our personal lives," co-owner Daniel Northcutt said. "For Google to spend so much time and effort on us has been amazing. It's been a great experience for our brand and their brand."
Some of the Google products Northcutt says he routinely uses include maps, its signature search engine, and Google Drive, which offers online file storage.
Many of the items Frank and other businesses use are available at little or no cost, Northcutt said.
"You don't have to be a big corporation to find success with the tools that are available out there," he said.
For businesses that perhaps aren't as tech savvy as Frank, help is available. Google has rolled out TexasGetOnline.com, a site that helps companies build their own free websites.
As of Monday, Google estimated almost 18,000 free sites had been built.
Google is also in the process of bringing its ultra-high-speed Google Fiber Internet service to Austin. The company says the service is expected to be up and running in Central Texas by mid 2014.
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