Jamie's Blog

Monday, April 09, 2007

Google Phone Search

Over the weekend Google launched into public beta a new free 411 service for your phone. You can access it by dialing 1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411) from any phone. The service is currently completely free, and totally automated. It's also only available in the US right now. The automation thing could be a problem. If you can't get the computer system to understand you, there are no human operators on the other end to talk to. But that aside, this could seriously upset the big telecoms. The 411 market in the US is currently a $7 billion a year money maker for the telecoms. So I doubt they will be very pleased with this new offering.

It works by connecting to the local search info in the normal Google search engine. So if your business isn't listed in the local search database, then Google wont be able to find it in it's free 411 service.

I haven't had a chance to test it out yet, but I am hopeful that it will be a viable alternative to the current 411 service and it's associated charges.

From TechCrunch: Google Launches Free 411 Service
Google's official site: Goog411

[edit] I tested it using both a specific business name and a generic business type. Both worked great. I had to repeat the business name twice before it understood me, but then it found the right business. The generic business type seemed to come out correctly even when I was purposely slurring and mumbling my words. The voice recognition is actually pretty good with common words, but more obscure words seem to need more precise pronunciation.

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