Friday, November 9, 2012

Google's FREE ZONE now in the Phil & the first in the World

The Philippines on Thursday (Nov. 8, 2012) became the first in the world to experience a new service being tested out by search giant Google, which allows free browsing of emails, Internet searches and social network sharing via mobile phones.

The new service, called Google Free Zone, gives prepaid subscribers of Globe Telecom and TM free and unlimited access to three popular Google services, namely: GMail, Google Search, and Google+.

The service is launching first in the Philippines, a Southeast Asian country known in the 1990′s as the “texting capital of the world” and is now being touted as the “social networking capital of the world,” with more than 90 percent social media penetration among Internet users.

And while the tally of Internet users remains at around 33 million for several years now, mobile penetration has gone off at a faster rate, with the Philippines nearing 100 percent penetration as of early 2012 which means a lot more Filipinos could benefit from Google’s new offering.

The good news is users with even the most basic of phones can still avail of the service. They would just have to visit on their mobile browsers to receive instructions on how they can use the three Google services.

Globe subscribers can also send a text containing the world “LIBRE” to 8888 to know the details of the promotion, which will run up to March 31 next year.

Google said more carriers will be signed on to the service in the near future.

“All Internet-enabled mobile phones, even feature phones, can be used to enjoy the service,” Callow said. According to Google, the versions of Search, GMail, and Google+ on Free Zone have been optimized “to work well with feature phones that lack the technological firepower of a smartphone.”

For Google searches, Callow said browsing the search results page and clicking on a link is free, but going beyond the first click would already incur data charges. There are no limits, however, to the number of Google searches users can perform.

For GMail, reading, sending, and receiving email messages are free, but downloading attachments has a cost. Reading and updating Google+ posts, meanwhile, is also free, but viewing photos and other media content will be charged by the Telco.

Globe clarified that users will be notified via a popup message if they are already going beyond what the service offers, so customers wouldn’t have to unnecessarily be charged for data services.

Globe and Google are not the only players in the Philippines to target non-smartphone users by offering them a cheaper way to access Internet services.

Since launching a pared down Internet service last year, for example, Globe rival Smart Communications said the half million users who signed up spent 150 percent more on average per month than its other subscribers.

sources: JM Tuazon; photo credit: googleblog

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