With all the hype around HTML5, all the latest web technologies, smartphones, tablets and so on, it's easy to forget that the web, for many, many people, meaning hundreds of millions, is not the same as the web we're most accustomed to.
For many, the first contact with the web is via simple phones with simple browsers, incapable of handling most web content.
For them, the web looks and feels completely different, but it's also inaccessible in many cases.
Case in point is creating a Google account or singing up for Gmail. For most people, this is trivial, yet, until now, it wasn't possible from a feature phone.
Thankfully, Google is recognizing that there's a world beyond Android and the iPhone and is now making it possible for people to sign up for Gmail on simple, so-called 'feature' phones.
"It’s very easy for anyone to get a Gmail account. It’s free. All you have to do is go to a computer and sign up. You can even sign up from your Android phone," Dimitris Meretakis, Product Manager at Google, wrote
"But what if you have no easy access to either a computer or an expensive smartphone? This is the case for hundreds of millions of people around the world," he explains.
"We have recently been rolling out a feature that allows anyone to sign up for a Gmail account from a feature phone. All you have to do is visit mail.google.com from your featurephone and sign up," he announced.
You should now be able to sign up for a Gmail account, and the Google account that goes with it, on most devices that can connect to the web.
With hundreds of millions in Africa, India, China and other parts of Asia coming online for the first time not on a desktop or laptop, but on a simple phone, this is probably a sound strategy.
That said, Google is also helping to bring smartphones and the full web to less developed countries with dirt-cheap phones. These too should see an explosion in popularity in the coming years.