Google Launches Beta of SMS Search Queries

  |  October 7, 2004   |  Comments

The search giant invites texters to GOOGL on their mobile phones.

Google has launched a beta test to let U.S. mobile phone and handheld device users tap into its search results via the short message service (SMS) platform. Users send queries to universal short code GOOGL or 46645 and receive results on their phones.

The service, dubbed Google SMS (define), returns directory information about local businesses via Google Local and provides price comparison information through Froogle.com. It also lets users search for residential phone numbers, dictionary definitions and Web search results snippets. Google SMS also does calculations, area code look-ups and ZIP code look-ups.

"We want to bring information to people in any way that we can," said Georges Harik, director of Googlettes (new platforms and offerings) at Google. "This way you can just be walking around or be in a coffee shop or be waiting for a train and use it from anywhere. A lot of local information is really useful."

So far, there are no concrete plans to serve ads on Google SMS, but Harik didn’t rule it out.

"Right now we’re sort of gathering feedback and seeing how people use it," said Harik. "To the extent that ads will be useful to consumers, we’ll be likely to deliver them. If we don’t think they’d be useful, then we won’t."

Though the U.S., at least partly because of technological barriers, has been behind the rest of the world in adopting SMS, it appears usage of the service is growing dramatically. InphoMatch, which recently merged with Mobileway to form Mobile 365, said it delivered nearly 2 billion SMS messages in the first quarter of 2004, up 37 percent from the fourth quarter of 2003. The company says it delivers 75 percent of inter-carrier SMS messaging in the U.S.

Google rival Yahoo recently began paying more attention to its mobile initiatives. The company started allowing users to post photos to Yahoo Photos via their camera phones, and it ran a contest to encourage such use. The company also conducted a "Custom Ride" promotion in September that allowed people to enter to win a car by logging into Yahoo on their mobile phones.

Mobile search is thought to be an emerging growth area, but the U.S. has been relatively late in developing wireless data services. In the U.K., IssueBits, headed by the former Symbian CEO, offers a premium search service somewhat similar to Google’s called Any Question Answered (AQA). AQA, unlike Google, employs human researchers, in addition to technology, to return answers. Google says it eventually plans to roll out SMS services in other languages and countries, but would need to develop Local and Froogle services to support them.

"I think we’re going to evaluate what we get out of the tests here," said Harik. "One of the things important to note is that Local was pioneered in the U.S. ahead of other places. We eventually intend to provide all of the services everywhere." Google already offers Web search for phones and handhelds that have WAP browsers, through its Google Wireless service. That service "translates" HTML pages into wireless markup language (WML) so wireless users can view ordinary Web sites more easily.

The service works on U.S. carriers, including AT&T Wireless, Cingular, Nextel, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint PCS.

ClickZ Live Chicago Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, Oct 3 to take advantage of Early Bird Rates!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pamela Parker

Pamela Parker is a former managing editor of ClickZ News, Features, and Experts. She's been covering interactive advertising and marketing since the boom days of 1999, chronicling the dot-com crash and the subsequent rise of the medium. Before working at ClickZ, Parker was associate editor at @NY, a pioneering Web site and e-mail newsletter covering New York new media start-ups. Parker received a master's degree in journalism, with a concentration in new media, from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

IBM: Social Analytics - The Science Behind Social Media Marketing

IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.

An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising

An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising
If you're considering implementing a marketing attribution model to measure and optimize your programs, this paper is a great introduction. It also includes real-life tips from marketers who have successfully implemented attribution in their organizations.

WEBINARS

Jobs

    • Web Writer
      Web Writer (Money Map Press) - BaltimoreDo you have a passion for the markets and investing, and writing? Do you want to spend your days providing...
    • Web Production Specialist
      Web Production Specialist (Money Map Press) - BaltimoreMoney Map Press is looking for a self-starter to perform and oversee the production of daily...
    • Internet Marketing Campaign Manager
      Internet Marketing Campaign Manager (Straight North, LLC) - Downers GroveWe are looking for a talented Internet Marketing Campaign Manager...