Google launches free SMS in Kenya

September 30, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 30 – Google on Thursday launched Gmail-to-SMS service, Kenya’s first PC chat to cell text service, which allows Gmail users in the country to send and receive chat messages – for free – as text messages.

With SMS in Chat, a Gmail user can send a text message from the desktop interface directly to phones via SMS. In return, these contacts may respond to these text messages and the response will appear in the original sender\’s Gmail interface.

While announcing these developments, Google’s Business Development Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa, Isis Nyong’o confirmed that the service was being launched in Kenya in partnership with Safaricom after successful launches in Senegal and Ghana.

"We are very proud to be launching SMS in Gmail Chat today," said Ms Nyong’o. "SMS in Gmail Chat has been specifically designed with the African consumer in mind and will bring a new level of flexibility and mobility to Gmail Chat. Google appreciates the vibrancy of the ICT sector in Kenya and has launched this service to enable Kenyans exploit it further. This once again demonstrates our commitment to Kenya and to the region," she added.

The service will eventually support all cellular networks and the standard network charges will apply for any communication from phone to desktop, but SMS in Gmail Chat is free from desktop to phone.

SMS in Chat is easy and convenient to use: Just type in a phone number into the new SMS box in Gmail and your message and send it off. In addition, contact phone numbers can be stored within the Gmail address book, which allows immediate access to them anytime an SMS needs to be sent simply by typing the contact\’s name in the chat box and selecting "Send SMS".

The SMS in Chat feature is especially useful if a contact is not available via online chat, as it allows users to form a conversation and to send information from within the chat window directly to the contact\’s phone screen. But it also works the other way round: You don\’t need access to a wired PC if you want to send messages to Gmail chat; you can directly send an SMS text message from your phone to a contact\’s Gmail Chat window.

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