for what it’s worth

stories and stimulus from a consumer insight consultant



According to MSNBC, Google have announced that they are offering every homeless person in San Francisco a phone number and voicemail to help them get back on their feet. The number given will be theirs for life and messages will be able to be picked up from any phone, with no indication to the caller that the service is different from any other voicemail system. Working with the City of San Francisco, Google launched the scheme at a Project Homeless Connect event on Wednesday.

Mayor Gavin Newsom and Google said they want to empower people. “How do you communicate as a homeless individual? ” Newsom asked. “How do you expect your life to turn around if you can’t even get information or if someone can’t even get in touch with you?”

“It just seems exactly like any other voice mail,” said Craig Walker, senior project manager of Google. “There’s no stigma attached to it that ‘hey this is a temporary thing’ or ‘this is an 800 number.’ It’s really just a local number owned by the user.”

“We’re firm believers in the power of technology to improve the daily lives of individuals and communities as a whole, and we recognize that access to phone and voicemail services is one way that Google can help San Francisco’s homeless stay connected with family, friends, social workers, health care providers, and potential employers.”

If the program is successful in San Francisco the plan is to offer it to homeless people in cities across the state and country.

However, it looks like Google might be making good promotional use of the already succesful Project CARE (Communications and Respect for Everybody) Program created by clever number aggregation service GrandCentral that Google acquired last year. Project CARE first hit the news in April 2006 offering the same free voicemail number for life service, and by October had registered more than 1,000 of the estimated 7,000 homeless in San Francisco. So the question is- is this just a Google PR stunt, or a case of poor journalism at MSNBC?

MSNBC: Google gives all SF Homeless Free Voicemail

Filed under: good, ,

Google at the Gas Pump

google gasFor lost drivers without Google on their dashboard, digital directions will soon be available as you fill up the tank. From next month thousands of new gas pumps with inbuilt Google map displays will open across the U.S. offering search categories including local landmarks, hotels, restaurants and hospitals. Once a destination is selected the pump will then print out directions to help the happy motorist on their way.

The aim is to eventually be able to offer specific directions based on an inputted address, however for now all the local results are selected by the gas station’s owner- and as this service won’t include any ads, that means they wield ultimate power. It will be interesting to see which brands, stores and chains make the grade on a local, personal level- and which are left out.

A.P: Latest Additives at Gas Pumps: Google

Filed under: brand extensions, mobile lifestyles,