logo-mobitelSri Lankan Telco Mobitel has tied up with Google to offer Google Apps to its Internet subscribers, reports LBO.lk. The service is called M3 Apps, is available for Mobitel Broadband and mobile – postpaid and prepaid customers. Browser company Opera Software also has a deal with Mobitel for deploying its Opera Mini browser.

The Service

Users will be able to access Google Apps services – mail, Calendar, Google Docs, Google Sites and Google Talk, and have a mobitel.lk account. Interestingly, Mobitel users can also sign up by SMS’ing ACT xyz to 466453, for a xyz@mobitelnet.lk account. Surprisingly, Mobitel is charging its customers Rs. 100 as an activation fee for the service, and an additional Rs. 50 as monthly subscription charges. Multiple accounts for the same number wil be charged Rs. 100 each for activation. Users will be able to send emails via SMS (send <Email address> <message> to 466453), receive Calendar updates via SMS.

It appears to me that users are paying Mobitel essentially for the SMS facility. Else, it makes a lot more sense for a consumer to sign up for a Google account or a even a Google Apps account of their own.

In India

In India, Airtel is providing Google Apps to its broadband customers via AirtelLive.com, but as far as I know, there’s no mobile integration. Google Apps is also being provided to users of NASDAQ listed consumer Internet and technology company Sify.

If you look at the bigger picture here, email is a space where Yahoo and MSN (Hotmail) have been dominant, and the repeat usage that email brings in, allows greater number of pageviews for both Yahoo and MSN. Google is trying to increase the distribution of its Google Apps by virtue of its tie-ups, and keep users logged in to the Google ecosystem. This allows them to better understand usage patterns, and deliver contextual advertising.