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Summary:

Updated: Ever since Microsoft bought Tellme Networks, the big question is what would Google do in response? It became a little clearer today when Google announced a free 411 service, which is a fraction of what TellMe-Microsoft has to offer. More details here. I had been […]

Updated: Ever since Microsoft bought Tellme Networks, the big question is what would Google do in response? It became a little clearer today when Google announced a free 411 service, which is a fraction of what TellMe-Microsoft has to offer. More details here.

I had been mucking around with this service last night, and didn’t end up writing about it because it is something that has been speculated for a long time. There were reports of 877-520FIND earlier. Google had hired a few folks out of Nuance, a speech recognition technology company last year, and perhaps the new launch is a culmination of their efforts.

Initial tests of the experimental service are like any new Google offering: they have promise to get better. The barrier has been set quite high by Tellme-based offerings, though they are not ad-supported. There is nothing to stop Microsoft from launching an ad-supported 411 service. Still, Google’s new ad-supported 411 service is an attempt by the company to extend its search-and-advertising franchise to the voice domain, indicating that the company has grander ambitions. (Or delusions, if you are a skeptic.)

The new offering is also a way for Google to needle the incumbent phone companies (not exactly a new fight for the search giant) by hurting the lucrative 411-business. Regardless, this is negative news for free 411 start-ups that have been building ad-supported 411 services. It is hard to figure out if anyone is actually making money on these services.

PS: Sorry for not offering more analysis right now, since I am judging the enterprenuer idol at UC Berkeley. See where I was on Justin.TV.

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  1. Interesting, a probable competitor to 1800-FREE-411. Speculation of voice/audio advertising?

  2. I still like Business Search on Tellme better (1-800-555-TELL).

  3. “See where I am on Justin.TV.”
    Not clear.
    Elaborate!

  4. Chris Gilmer Friday, April 6, 2007

    Go to http://www.justin.tv – and watch the live video stream, Om is on the right side of the table.

  5. Katie Fehrenbacher Friday, April 6, 2007

    Go check out the Justin.tv site, and you’ll probably see Om on the video feed.

  6. Google Clues: Google 411, JotSpot Relaunch Friday, April 6, 2007

    [...] Google Labs has debuted a test version of a free 411 service today: dial 1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411) to access it. There’s more info on the FAQ page. The local business info comes from Google Maps/Google Local. Another example of Google moving into a market and potentially disrupting it? [via] [...]

  7. Google launches free 411 (beta) « reDesign Friday, April 6, 2007

    [...] 6th, 2007 Om Malik reports on Google’s beta free 411 service. Call 800-GOOG-411 to get free business [...]

  8. netzkobol.de blog Friday, April 6, 2007

    google voice local search…

    speaking of which google launches another free service called “google voice local search”.
    “it is an experiment on google labs that offers free 411-like service. with google voice local search, you get fully-automated, fast access to same local-bus…

  9. Web2.0 Effect Blog Web 2.0 Blog Technology Help » Blog Archive » Google does free 411 Friday, April 6, 2007

    [...] [via GigaOm] [...]

  10. Aseem Bajaj Friday, April 6, 2007

    Just tried it out. Smooth transaction. A+++++. Will do business again.

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