I’m very excited to see that Google is taking a serious interest in Africa. From offices in South Africa and Kenya, to an open call for Africans to expand Google Maps across the continent, they’re serious about actually testing and rolling out services directly targeted to Africans. And now they’ve outdone even this level of engagement.
With the explosive growth of mobile phone usage (but not always smart phones), Google is looking at brining the power of the web to SMS users. And they’ve just rolled out Google SMS for Uganda, a suite of mobile applications which will allow people to access information, via SMS, on a diverse number of topics
- 6001: Google SMS Tips – Health tips, ClinicFinder, Farmer’s Friend (agriculture tips & weather)
- 6006: Google SMS Search – News, sports scores, stock quotes, horoscope, glossary, currency converter, religious texts, translation, flights, Q&A, calculator, and local time
- 6007: Google Trader Buy and sell on your mobile. Use Google Trader to find anything that you need to have, or want to sell or trade
While Google is particularly excited about Google SMS Tips, an SMS-based query-and-answer service, I’m thinking that Google Trader is going to be the killer app. I see a blossoming of person-to-person sales of all manner of products and services, that will quickly also absorb the nascent SMS-based agricultural pricing, becoming something of an African Craigslist.
And while the businessman in me is interested to see what items sell the most and the most profitably, the arm-chair sociologist wonders what search terms said items will be organized around – will they be anything you’d expect or will Ugandans organize their lives on whole other terms.