Matt Marshall's article: Silicon Valley start-ups rush to bring you information on the go, does a great job of not only reviewing but adding several insights to some of the mobile search news we've been blogging about. Matt also discusses a couple of services that offer FREE directory assistance information. That's right, dial a number and ask for a phone number AFTER listening to an ad or a product pitch.
Marshall's article mentions the recent 4INFO deal with Gannett that we blogged here last Wednesday. We read that 4INFO's CEO, Pankaj Shah, wants to go head to head with Google in the mobile portal space.
+ To try out inFreeDA dial: 800-411-METRO (6387). It also works for a landline phone. Residential and business listings.
The service is paid for by advertisers, who give short brand announcements while people are waiting for their answers, or who pitch discounts to lure customers to their competing service.When I tried the service I asked for a friends number. After providing the name and number into an automated system I listened to a 2 second ad for an auto dent repair service. Then, an operator came on the line, confirmed what I had spoken into the phone a few seconds earlier and I had my number.
+ Jingle Networks brands its service as 1-800-FREE41.
My experience with 1-800-FREE41 was also positive. No ads (I asked for a residential number) and within seconds I had what I needed. It was a completly automated experience.
Another mobile search service (SMS-based) that Matt mentions is Synfony. However, I'm guessing he's writing about Synfonic. We've been blogging about them since they day they launched (a day before Google launched Google SMS). One post discussed that Synfonic's technolgy had been licensed for use in China.
Matt has a bit more in his Silicon Beat post.
Postscript 2: Testing the free directory services reminded me of Tellme, a speech activated (free) info service that's been around for years. You can try it by dialing 1-800-555-TELL. They offer news, sports, movie times, stock quotes, and more. TellMe Networks technology powers services from many other companies.
It's probably also worth mentioning that Yahoo offers Yahoo by Phone and AOL, AOL By Phone. Both services are fee-based. Google Labs once offered a search by phone feature featured called Google Voice Search. It's no longer available but you can read about it here.