Google ditches free SMS service amid ‘charges’ row

Google has suspended one of its first mobile services in the UK, just two months after it launched, amid complaints about users being charged for what was meant to be a free service.

The internet giant launched the Google SMS service in April. It offered information such as search results and driving directions to users who sent a query as a text message to the shortcode 64664.

“The service has been taken down for the UK,” confirmed a Google spokesperson. “Google SMS is not available in the UK. We’re busy working on new mobile products that we look forward to introducing soon.”

The development comes as the US giant puts more weight behind its mobile activities. This week it launched news, e-mail and personalised Google home page services for mobile devices. All these services are free. It also offers a mobile shopping service in the UK, based on its Froogle offering.

One user of Google SMS told Marketing Week that he had been charged for using the service while it was running. Google declined to say whether billing problems were behind the decision to suspend the service.

The company is believed to have switched the partner it uses to run the SMS query service to mobile marketing specialist Netsize. It is expected to be relaunched in the near future.

Google SMS is still available in the US.

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