Google launches free Net service for feature phones
Google is launching the service, called Free Zone, first in the Philippines via local carrier Globe Telecom. The service allows phones with an Internet connection but limited functionality to access basic Google products like search, email and its social networking service Google+ for free.
Users could access websites that show up in Google's search results for free, but any website outside those results would prompt an invitation to subscribe to the mobile operator’s data plan.
“It’s aimed at the next billion users of the Internet, many of whom will be in emerging markets and encounter the Internet first on a mobile phone, without ever owning a PC,” AbdelKarim Mardini, product manager for Google, told Reuters.
Google and Globe hope that by offering a free layer of services they will entice users of so-called feature phones to move beyond just making phone calls and sending SMS messages to sign up for Internet services. Such services are more lucrative for carriers. Google makes most of its money through ads on web pages. It says it plans to roll out the service in other countries soon.
While developing countries like the Philippines have been enthusiastic early adopters of cellphones, there are still millions who either use phones too basic to be used for Internet services, or who are reluctant to shell out for more expensive services.
Phones running Google’s
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