A New Mobile Phone Search Service

UpSnap turns your cell phone in to a search tool, offering free directory assistance lookups using SMS text messaging.

Using the service is simple and straightforward, either from your SMS-enabled cell phone or via UpSnap.com. Simply type the name and location of a business you're trying to find and UpSnap returns directory information. Your phone does not need a browser or the ability to connect to the internet to use the service.

The service is free and is supported by sponsored listings. To access the service from your phone, simply send a text message to 604.877.7627. Most carriers do not charge long-distance fees for SMS messages--you'll pay only the fees charged by your carrier for a message (if any).

The search system attempts to interpret your request intelligently. For example you can search for services, people, products and companies by telephone area code, by Zip Code or by U.S. airport code.

For example, to locate a Starbucks in San Francisco, you can use any of the following combinations:

starbucks san francisco CA
starbucks san fran (partial match)
starbucks 415 (by area code)
starbucks 94118 (by Zip Code)
starbucks SFO (by airport code)

If UpSnap can't understand your request, it sends your phone template with a pre-formatted search string. Edit the template and reply with your commands in the template format.

Advertisers have both paid placement and call-back service options. For more information see UpSnap's For Advertisers section.

UpSnap is the brainchild of Tony Philipp, who built Lycos Europe and later worked with Vivisimo. Partners in the venture include web veterans Richard Jones from Fortunecity and Wendell Brown from Evoice.

Philipp says that future services will include white pages, shopping comparison, search and tracking of eBbay auctions and other services.

The search via mobile phone space is suddenly heating up, with the launch of a number of new services this year. News Editor Gary Price will be taking a closer look at two promising services, Mobot and Evernote, in an upcoming issue of SearchDay.

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About the author

Chris Sherman is a frequent contributor to several information industry journals. He's written several books, including The McGraw-Hill CD ROM Handbook and The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See, co-authored with Gary Price. Chris has written about search and search engines since 1994, when he developed online searching tutorials for several clients. From 1998 to 2001, he was About.com's Web Search Guide.