For a country obsessed with missed calls, unlimited free talk plans, and free mileage, as a rather famous ad on TV goes, Google has launched a service that allows people to send SMSes to mobile phone users via its popular GTalk, or Gmail chat. This service has been available in several countries for a while now, but has been extended to India only this week. According to the feature, people using either chat programmes can send texts to mobile users for free and cell phone subscribers can reply at regular SMS rates.
To ensure maximum coverage, the company has tied up with mobile service providers Aircel, Idea, Loop Mobile, MTS, Reliance, Tata DoCoMo, Tata Indicom and Vodafone in a few cities, including Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.
As per the current service, a user starts off with a maximum credit limit of 50 messages. If you get a reply, an additional five messages are added to the credit limit. The upper limit has been kept low on purpose to ensure that people cannot send out mass texts.
But don’t stress if you run out. “In case the SMS credit goes down to zero, it will increase automatically to one text after 24 hours. Keep in mind that if you’d like a higher message credit, you can always send an SMS to your own phone, and then reply to that message multiple times. Every time you reply, your SMS credit is increased by five. Effectively, you’re buying more messages by paying your phone company for these outgoing messages,” says Google in an explanatory post on its website.
Obviously, users are thrilled to have this option. “This is a great move. I can now chat for free and for hours without leaving GTalk and my parents won’t complain about the huge bill,” says Shraddha Singh, 17, college student.