Google announced today on its official blog that it will pull the plug on the very cool but underused GOOG-411 free directory assistance.
Underuse was not the cited reason though. As we’ve written many times since it launched in 2007, the service has the byproduct of refining Google’s speech-to-text processing. The fruits of this have been applied to voice search as well as indexing online video content.
But according to Google, it served its purpose and it’s time to devote resources more directly to these initiatives. This is especially true for mobile voice search where Google is making big bets. Along with visual search, voice is a more intuitive mobile search input (vs. typing).
Both of these could drive mobile Web use, where Google’s core search business compels it to place its chips (vs. apps). Content discoverability and cumbersome user experiences have erstwhile steered mobile users away from the browser and into the warm embrace of app stores.
But Google is doing everything it can to make the mobile Web more warm and fuzzy. Search being the front door to most browser-based experiences, this involves building easier ways to tell the machine what you’re looking for. Voice is a natural fit.
GOOG-411 served dutifully and will be shut down for good on Nov. 12. It will be missed.
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I had early used the 1800GOOG411 service and found it to be fairly helpful. I regret seeing the service being shutdown. Although recently I had used the toll free service of Justdial. I called up 1800-500-0000 and my queries were answered within 60 second by a real person. They also connected me to the vendor that I was looking for. Truly I think Justdial is one step ahead of 1800GOOG services.