Digital textbooks for those in need

by Smart Communications, Inc.

See the full experience

The Story

In developed countries, sleek tablets and e-readers have replaced large, heavy textbooks. In the Philippines, however, even the cheapest electronic models cost more than a family's monthly income. Smart, the country's largest telecom, wanted to make textbooks more accessible using the only gadget most Filipino families own: an analog mobile phone. The company turned these phones into low-tech e-readers for students in an initiative called TXTBKS, which was launched in four partner schools with around 800 students.


To create TXTBKS, Smart, with help from authors and publishers, condensed official school texts into 160-character text messages and replaced the phone’s contact list with a table of contents. Using a SIM reader and SIM writing software, the company then programmed the texts into the inboxes of thousands of inactive surplus SIM cards.

The Technology

  • SIM Reader

The Results

Launch date: January 19, 2013

Teachers noticed that their students participated more in class when using TXTBKS. One child psychologist attributed this to the kids' exposure to technology—a first for many of them. The Department of Education in the Philippines is currently studying the adoption of TXTBKS on a nationwide scale. STRYBKS, an offshoot for use in local orphanages, made its international debut in South Africa in June 2014.


Weight reduction in school bags


Increased participation in class


TXTBKS titles to date, including STRYBK spin-off

The Team

DDB DM9JaymeSyfu
  • Merlee Jayme, Chief Creative Officer
  • Eugene Demata, Executive Creative Director
  • Aste Gutierrez, Copywriter

Think w/Google APAC on LinkedIn

Join a community of digital thought leaders and be inspired.