9 July 2009

Google on designing useful mobile services for Africa

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Africa post
Last week Google announced a suite of SMS services in Uganda. In a follow-up post on the main google blog, the company explains that it is the result of more than a year of true user-centred research and design.

“We knew we wanted to build useful mobile services tailored to the needs of people in sub-Saharan Africa, but how could we find out what people want from the Internet when they don’t have access to it already? What would people who had never used search before want to search for if we gave them a mobile phone and said “Ask any question you like”?

In early 2008 we set out with colleagues from Google.org, Grameen Applab and MTN (a network carrier in Uganda) with this challenge in mind. Our research needed to be able to assess the feasibility of delivering information via mobile in Uganda as well as evaluate the content “appetites” of local people. Since no search engine existed for testing, we did the next best thing: We decided to mimic the experience of using a search engine using human experts.”

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You can find more background information on the Africa Gathering site.

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