Summits Yellow

Google Targets Next Billion Mobile Consumers

Kirsty Styles

Google has launched a service called Free Zone to help bring the next billion internet users online.

It will enable mobile phone users in developing countries, whose handsets have an internet connection but limited functionality, to access Google search, email and Google+ for free. More web browsing means more lucrative ad dollars for the search giant.

It will be available first in the Philippines in a partnership with local carrier, Globe Telecom. If users try to access a site that is outside Google’s search results, it will prompt them 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.

Globe rival Smart Communications has already launched a similar offer in the country.

Google plans to continue the roll out to other countries.