Of all the evil, soulless, money grubbing corporations that ultimately run the world, I’ve got to say that Google consistently finds itself coming off as the most pleasant. Between their exceptional employee benefits, and those awesome Google Doodles, they really do seem like the simple global power next door types.
In their latest move of philanthropy, Google is now offering cell phone users in Africa a service called Gmail SMS. This will allow users without high tech cell phones, or conveniences like WiFi hotspots or 3G capabilities, to send and receive Gmail messages through a phone’s basic text messaging service. The e-mail service is free of charge, and the only incurred fees are tied into a plans standard text messaging rates.
This may not seem like a big deal to most, but it’s a simple gesture that could mean a lot to cell users in certain underdeveloped parts of the world. The technology to do something like this isn’t exactly mind blowing, but for Google to consider that maybe people who can’t afford hundreds of dollars for a phone, and/or may not have any widespread internet services available, might just enjoy actually having a modern convenience now and again is the kind of move that should make similar service providers take notice, bite their pride, and start to offer the service themselves if possible.
Currently the service is available in Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria, but it looks like the ambition is to offer Gmail SMS to as many markets as possible. Considering the large number of cell phone users in Africa, for those in underdeveloped parts of the continent (and similar areas of the world), the expansion surely can’t come soon enough.