Google’s Gmail team has been busy quietly rolling out the ability to sign up for a Gmail account directly from Internet-connected feature-phones – i.e., phones that can’t run apps but have a built-in browser. That may not sound very exciting. but it’s good news for Google as it allows potentially hundreds of millions of extra people across the to sign up to the service if they choose.
As Google announces on its Africa Blog today, the move is designed to serve people who rely on a featurephone to access the Internet as they have no regular access to a computer or smartphone. Google says that this is “Hundreds of millions of people.” All these users need to do is visit mail.google.com from their phone to sign up.
Google has long been active in the developing world, encouraging growth in Internet usage. From a range of services unique to Africa, to a bus traveling around India giving people their first taste of life online, the more people Google can get online to more potential customers it has.