Google as development agency ctd.

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Is Google the newest development agency? They keep impressing me with their new initiatives. This time it's an SMS service that allows mobile phone users to request and receive information off the web free of charge. This could prove to be of huge benefit to the now vast number of mobile phone users in the developing world who don't have access to an internet connection. From Joe Mucheru writing on the Google Africa Blog:

In Africa, we've learned that mobile phones are easier to get to than internet connections and PCs, and that working towards our mission means working through mobile phones. At the beginning of 2008, there were over a quarter of a billion mobile subscribers on the continent. Mobile penetration has risen from just one in 50 people at the beginning of this century to almost one third of the population today. To that end, we are excited to launch a test of Google SMS Search in Ghana and Nigeria.

Google SMS Search provides access to information through a mobile phone without internet. You simply create an SMS message about what you are looking for and send it to the Google number (4664 or "GOOG") and wait for a response by SMS.

So far it looks like Google is only offering the service in Ghana and Nigeria. Maybe an enteprising PhD student could talk to Google about implementing a randomized evaluation when it's extended further?   


Ryan Hahn

Operations Officer

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