Some people report that Gmail started to require SMS verification when you create an account, a practice used in the US and other countries when Gmail wasn't publicly available worldwide.
"If you'd like to sign up for a Gmail address, you need to have a mobile phone that has text-messaging capabilities. If you don't have a phone, you may want to ask a friend if you can use his or her number to receive a code. Also, if you know someone who already has a Gmail address, you can ask them to email an invitation to you. One of the reasons we're offering this new way to sign up for Gmail is to help protect our users and combat abuse. Spam and abuse protection are two things we take very seriously, and our users have been very happy with the small amount of spam they've received in Gmail," explains Google.
I created a new Gmail account and Google didn't ask my phone number, so the new requirement could be limited to some regions or it's just an experiment. Google says that is stores your phone number to make sure that you use it for "a limited number of accounts", but it's not clear how many accounts you can create using a phone number. Another problem is that not all the countries and the carriers are supported.
In other news, the SMS feature from Gmail Labs is still disabled and the option that lets you reset the password of a Google Account by SMS is available everywhere.