A journalist I know, Jatindra Dash from the eastern Indian state of Orissa, started this rather interesting SMS-based news-service in the Oriya language which is spoken by some 31 million people. Elsa Patnaik’s article on TheHoot.org describes it thus:
Odisha.com, the world’s first and only 24×7 Oriya news portal has tied up with SMSGupShup, a free group messaging service provided by Webaroo Technology India Pvt. Ltd. Mumbai. While Odisha.com provides the content, SMSGupShup provides the free group SMS technology and platform. Started in November 2007, the service has close to 60,000 subscribers at present.
The figures sound amazing. Tried SMSGupShup myself, and found it fairly efficient (and free-of-charge, so far) to launch an SMS alerts service for journalists in Goa, a former Portuguese colony on the west coast of India. Needless to say, there are still less than a hundred SMS-recipients there, and keeping it active has proven a bit tough… No blaming the technology for that!
Things otherwise seem to work almost fine (sometimes a slight delay in the delivery of the messages … not sure who’s end that’s at).