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Google & Synfonic Both Launch SMS Search Tools

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Google has a just launched a new site that allows you to search and access content via SMS (short message service/text messaging) that's very popular in Europe and Asia. However, this new Google beta is only available in the United States.

They've offered a version of Google optimized for wireless browsers for a couple of years.

Yahoo also offers numerous services for wireless web users. For example, you can receive keyword news alerts via SMS.

Recently, we've posted about a service in the UK that allows you to ask questions and receive answers via SMS.

Google SMS returns answers not links for certain types of queries. Examples include:
+ Dictionary definitions
+ Product comparison info
+ Local business (name, address, phone) info.

Btw, just yesterday, Berkeley based Synfonic launched an SMS-based search tool called Synfonic411 that offers directory and local business info from the Yahoo Local database.

Finally, a "tool" for SMS that's been getting press lately is Vazu. It allows the user to send any phone number found on the web along with other contact info to their cell phone/wireless device. I'm a Treo 600 guy and have found it very useful.

Wireless access to search tools (via SMS and the wireless web) will continue to come online as the wireless web and SMS continue to grow in popularity. Even specialized databases are developing "mobile" interfaces. The National Library of Medicine already offers a version of PubMed for wireless web browsers.

Want to discuss or comment? Visit our forum thread: Google SMS Search.

I've posted the complete text of the Google and Synfonic announcements below.

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Today, Google announced the beta release of Google SMS, a new offering that enables people who are away from their computers to quickly and easily get instant, accurate answers to specialized queries through text messaging. Using a cell phone or handheld device such as a Blackberry, users can obtain local business listings, dictionary definitions, product prices and more--all available through Google.

Google SMS returns specific information related to a user's query as a text message to their mobile device. For example, to find a pizza joint in a specific neighborhood, users can send a text message to the 5-digit U.S. shortcode 46645 (also GOOGL on most mobile phones) with the query and city or query and zip code, i.e. [pizza 94043], and immediately receive the name, address, and phone number of local pizzerias in that area. This type of concise information can help mobile users find exactly what they're looking for anywhere and any time.

Using Google SMS, people can:
. Find names, addresses and phone numbers for local businesses and residences
. Look up dictionary terms to get definitions, expand their vocabularies, or even settle bets
. Compare online product prices with those they find in retail stores, i.e. to find the price of an iPod, users can enter the message [price ipod 20gb]

Google SMS, currently in beta on Google Labs at http://sms.google.com, extends the reach of Google's search services to mobile phones and devices, while staying true to Google's mission to bring more of the world's information directly to users. Google SMS currently works with wireless providers in the U.S. only, including AT&T Wireless, Cingular, Nextel, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint PCS.

Google is continually developing innovative ideas to improve our users' search experience, and as always, we welcome your feedback. For instructions on how to get started, users may send a text message to 46645 with the word [help]. More information about Google SMS can be found at http://sms.google.com.
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SYNFONIC LAUNCHES FREE 411 SERVICE

WIRELESS APPLICATION COMPANY PROVIDES DIRECTORY ASSISTANCE SERVICES FOR TEXT-MESSAGE ENABLED WIRELESS PHONES


BERKELEY, Calif., October 6, 2004, Synfonic Inc., a leading provider of on-demand data services for wireless phones, today announced its new Synfonic411 service providing directory assistance and local business information using text messaging short-message service (SMS). Cell phone users send a text message to Synfonic411 with the city, state, and business name, and Synfonic returns a text message with the desired address and phone number in seconds.

Unlike conventional directory assistance service, Synfonic411 also
provides additional information on similar businesses in the vicinity. “A user in Berkeley might look up the name of their favorite Japanese restaurant in order to make a lunch reservation,” said John Chen, co-founder and chief executive officer of Synfonic. “Within seconds, our free service will send the user the address and phone number of the restaurant, as well as two or three other restaurants in the neighborhood.

The service is exactly the same as today's directory assistance, but you don't need to write the number down, and we add a couple of alternative suggestions too.”

All cell phones manufactured within the past three years are SMS enabled, and text messaging usage is increasing in all age groups. Synfonic is aiding this trend by developing on-demand mobile services for consumers and businesses to get information sent to their cellular phones. Synfonic411 is the first in a series of SMS-based information search services from Synfonic, turning your cell phone into a mobile search engine.

How to use Synfonic directory assistance service:
Synfonic's directory assistance service is available at 650.430.7183.
Simply send a text message with the city, state initials, and business name, separating each item with a comma. For example, to find Oakland Airport, type “Oakland, CA, Oakland Airport” and send the message to Synfonic411.

About Synfonic
Synfonic is a Silicon Valley based developer of on-demand information
services for cell phone users. Using its patent pending mobile services platform, Synfonic brings the power of the internet to mobile handsets, stripping and formatting web content to fit cell phones. For more


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