Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has reportedly launched a voice based local information service in India, in Hyderabad. Syed Abbas writes (via Labnol) that the service, launched on the number 1800-41-99-99-99 is similar to that of Just Dial, and after the call, 3-4 SMS’ are sent to the user.
Google does have a similar service in the US – 1800-GOOG-411 (there’s an introductory video here), but it apparently isn’t very successful. In the US, they’ve got an automated service, but have apparently settled for a call center in India.
I tried dialling the number from Delhi, and it didn’t work. We’ve also contacted Google India for a confirmation of the launch of the service, so wait for updates if they do respond. If you’re in Hyderabad, do give it a go (apparently, Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) customers are not able to connect to the 1800 numbers) and tell us about it in the comments. We know how JustDial monetizes their service – by advertisements and lead generation for vendors without the users consent; I wonder how Google intends to monetize its local information service.
Update: It’s a pilot project, all right. An official Google spokesperson has sent the following response by mail:
“Google has introduced a pilot for Voice Search in Hyderabad. This is in line with our mission of making information universally useful and accessible, be it at home or on the go. Voice enables us to reach non-web users in local languages, while still leveraging our core strength in search. We are focusing on our users and innovating for the needs of the local market. For now users in Hyderabad can get information on local business and movie showtimes through a Toll-Free 800 number. This means that a user calling this number for information will not be charged -infact he will also get an the option to be connected directly to the local business he is looking for- again for free. It will also be possible for users to request this information through SMS.
This pilot will enable us to get real user feedback to improve the service before a full launch.”