Since I heard about the introduction of the Free SMS by Google at the Ghana Google Technology User Group [GhanaGTUG] meet-up on March 5th, 2010; I have always been trying out the Google SMS and trust me, it sure works. I have been in communication with a couple of friends with this new service and I find it very cool.
Gmail SMS Logo
Below is a closer look at how it works and a couple of reviews from other citizen journalists from Ghana.
According to Estelle Akofio-Sowah – Google Ghana Lead;
SMS in Gmail Chat is a feature that allows Gmail users to send SMS messages to their contacts mobile phones using Gmail Chat. We believe SMS in Gmail Chat bridges online and mobile communications, bringing a new level of flexibility and mobility to Gmail Chat. We hope to extend this to additional countries and additional carriers in the future, but have nothing to announce at this time.
According to an information on this new service in Ghana;
Sending a message is free from Gmail to any phone except Vodafone (Ghana) numbers for now. When replying with an SMS from phone to Gmail, you will be charged a regular SMS rate by your mobile provider.
Gmail SMS Screen Capture
The SMS messages are integrated into the chat interface and SMS replies appear as a reply in Chat. These SMS conversations are also stored in your Chat history just like regular chats. Below is a list of Countries and GSM Operators currently supported.
* Ghana [MTN, Zain, Tigo & Kasapa] Vodafone not available yet.
* Israel [Pelephone & Orange]
* Palestinian Territories [Jawal]
* United States [All operators]
Nana Kwabena Owusu; author of 233Tech believes that; this is a really smart move by Google, for two main reasons which will both have positive outcomes for Google Ghana.
- Increased Google Users: Free SMS is a very powerful offer for people to try out Gmail especially since it is integrated into the email messaging and chat so tightly. Once they become Gmail users they are more likely to end up using other Google products like Google Calendar which also has SMS integrated, Blogger and a whole lot of others.
- Mobile Advertising: Mobile search and advertising is one of Google’s high growth areas and although in other countries display ads may be sufficient, SMS advertising is more suited for Ghana. With this move Google may end up with a database of users against which they can execute a mobile SMS advertising strategy without licensing third party data from providers in Ghana.
According to Emmanuel K. Dogbevi of Ghana Business News;
This is indeed a boost to the ICT sector in Ghana that individual’s and companies can take advantage of. Sadly, most Ghanaian businesses are not taking advantage of the growing online and mobile Internet solutions available to maximize business opportunities. This latest innovation from Google after the launch of Google maps in 30 countries in Africa including Ghana emphasizes that opportunity even more.
What’s going to be the next innovative service after Gmail SMS in Ghana? Would it be Google Voice? Well, I’m keeping my ears and eyes out there for more info.