There may be a dozen hundred providers providing the same feature as Google does, but when Google comes into the picture, they always take the market away from the others.
Google India Labs has recently launched SMS Channels. Apart from all the things it promises to do, this is what it means the most to me: Form SMS groups – much like the yahoo or Google groups. Only now, its accessible via the web as well as through a simple SMS which is a 10 digit mobile number. All facilities are available both on the web as well as via an SMS from your phone.
Create your own SMS Channel via the web here. Once created, you are provided a link which you can IM/email to your other members to invite them to the group. You can also invite them yourself by providing their phone numbers on the group page. Each invited member is sent an SMS asking him to respond to accept the invitation. To accept, simply reply to the message as ON <channel name> . You can also invite others to a group via SMS – simply send invite <channel name> <phone number> as an SMS to 9870807070. You can also accept invitations online by logging to your Google account and verify your phone number as the specified on the website and go to your My Channels tab to accept the invite.
You can be the only one posting messages to the group or you can allow all members to post. You can allow anyone to subscribe or only those that you invite.
You can visit the SMS channel page by logging into your Google account at : http://labs.google.co.in/smschannels. Then use the text box provided to send an SMS to the entire group. As long as incoming messages are free, no one will get charged for this. To send a message to the entire group from your cell phone, send the message as send <channel_name> <message> to 9870807070. Standard messaging rates will apply. For me, guess this is not a local number, hence I am being charged Rs. 0.50 per SMS instead of the regular Rs. 0.02. Each SMS you send is counted and charged as a single message by your service provider even though it is sent to multiple recipients by Google.
I have created a few channels for close groups of friends. Just send a message to the number above and it reaches everyone instantly, where ever they are in the country. Ain’t it a real benefit if you got friends across the country? And how much does Google charge you for this great service? Now read that question again. Google and charge? Not a penny. Its absolutely free!
Now for the more advertised features: An SMS Channel can be tied to blogger URL and updates on the blog are sent to the subscribers via SMS. Similarly to a Google group. Even Google news via just Keywords. But the most important one for most people I am sure is that you can tie it up to any damn RSS/ATOM feed across the web!!! Every message posted can be viewed online on the Channel page so you actually don’t lose track of what’s happening even if you delete a message from your cell phone.
Last I saw there was a group called Live Cricket Score and also a group called IT-Freshers Jobs! Getting an idea of the huge benefit this feature is? There are thousands of groups already and tens of thousands of subscribers hooked on to them. The mobile revolution is here I presume.
Read more here: http://labs.google.co.in/smschannels/help
Google SMS Channels URL: http://labs.google.co.in/smschannels/browse