Mobile Search: Gannett Invests in 4INFO; Acquires XSVoice, Now Offering Streaming Audio on Your Phone or Device

Two more mobile search items to report today.

A joint press release from mobile search provider 4INFO (a service I blog about and also use very regularly) and media giant Gannett (USA Today is one of their properties) informs us that Gannett is making a minority investment in 4INFO and also entering into a marketing and distribution agreement with them.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Collaboration between the companies will begin with USA TODAY and be introduced to other Gannett newspaper and broadcast operations, including Captivate Network. This will include promotion of 4INFO?s mobile real-time information such as sports scores and weather within relevant sections of USA TODAY.

Congrats to the 4INFO team. Could today’s announcement be the beginning of a time where we see other large media organizations getting more involved in the mobile search space? We will be watching.

Next, UpSnap, another mobile search company has acquired XSVoice, a mobile entertainment company. The news release focuses on how XSVoice will now allow UpSnap users to receive streaming audio (music, news, sports, etc.) via their mobile phone or device. The UpSnap home page today includes links to how to access this streaming audio content like this rock music “station.”

If I’m not mistaken, UpSnap is leveraging an XSVoice service called the Mobile Broadcast Network (MBN) to power this new feature. MBN has been around for some time (and now shows that is part of UpSnap). I’ve used it several times in the past and the audio quality can vary from ok (spoken word, news, etc.) to poor. Of course, various conditions including bandwidth issues, weather, and the quality of your speaker or headset can go a long way in determining the audio quality. I’m looking forward to taking another look at this audio service and seeing what develops. Cool idea.

You can learn more about MBN here. In a nutshell, MBN and now UpSnap allows the user to have audio content delivered by simply dialing a US phone number. The service works on both mobile phones as well as landline phones. Example: To access a station playing ambient music,
+ Dial: 1-615-727-9201
+ Login (Registration, web-based, is free)
+ Enter the station code for Ambient, 1760
+ That’s it. Music should begin playing immediately.

Of course, make sure your phone (whatever type it is) offer lots of long-distance minutes (assuming your outside
of the 615 area code). Otherwise, this could start costing. The content itself is free.

Web access to the content directory is now available either via UpSnap or on your mobile web browser. Check this page for info.

The biggest question I have about the audio content is that with some mobile phone providers now allowing people to download and/or purchase and play MP3’s, iTunes, and even listen to satellite radio, will the audio quality that’s now available suffice in the long run? I think the service might have a brighter future focusing on non-music content like interviews, news, and sports. Streaming podcasts anyone? Of course, many Smartphones have offered MP3 players for years. For example, using my Treo and some software for the Palm (Pocket-Tunes), I cannot only play any MP3’s but also stream LIVE any station offers an MP3 stream. For example, most Shoutcast stations and feeds are in MP3 format.

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