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The recently acquired Tellme today announced that it will integrate a new local business search into its multi-modal voice search platform.

From the press release:

The free service launches today with local business search by business name or category. Designed to provide fast, accurate results, Tellme users now have three ways to access the service: Tellme by Voice: Call 1-800-555-TELL and say “business search” to find a business listing or search for a particular category, such as “flower shops,” from any phone, including a map for the selected listing.

 Tellme by Text: Send a text message to TELLM (83556) with a business request such as “starbucks san francisco ca” and get a text message back with the listing and a link to a map.

 Tellme by Mobile: Speak requests and then see the results displayed on the mobile phone screen for a voice + visual search, including maps and driving directions.

These three modes previously existed (the multi-modal value proposition that has stood as Tellme’s sweet spot), but are now attempting to gain new traction with a marketing push centered on category-driven local business search, which will be smart.

As we’ve pointed out, texting and talking are the most user-friendly and pervasive uses of mobile phones (it is a phone after all) and are thus the best formats in which to gain inroads to mainstream user adoption of mobile local search (where there are significant adoption barriers). Furthermore, the option to use either one in input (searching) and output (search results) furthers the usability.

Voice search and free DA are heating up with Google’s recent entrance into the space with 1-800-GOOG-411. It’s telling of Google’s exposure that it essentially shed light on the space, while many other  and more evolved  products like Tellme and Jingle were already on the market, as Greg Sterling points out.

But voice search could go in many different directions, given Google’s involvement in the space. As Matt Booth pointed out yesterday, a focus on ad formats rather than distribution media will allow Google to have versatile ads that can be applied across media.

Audio ads, for example, can be contextually placed at the front end of free DA calls and also sold into available radio inventory  in line with Google’s deal with Clear Channel this week. This same concept will likely be applied to video through appropriate media.

We’ll have more on the Clear Channel deal, the DoubleClick deal and Google’s expansion across different formats and media in an Advisory later this week. In the meantime, we expect continued activity and innovation in the wireless voice search space, most likely led by Tellme.

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