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April 18, 2007

Integrating Tellme into Microsoft

Posted by David Hunter at 11:13 AM ET.

On Friday of last week, US regulators approved Microsoft’s acquisition of Tellme Networks and the new member of the Microsoft family didn’t let any grass grow under its feet as it announced three free consumer services on Tuesday that will allow users to search for local businesses by speaking or typing their question, and then hearing or seeing the answer:

- Tellme by Voice: Call 1-800-555-TELL and just 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. Callers can also choose from many other great services like movie tickets, ring tones, sports, news and more.

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

- Tellme by Mobile: Speak your request and then see the results displayed on your phone screen for a voice + visual search, including maps and driving directions. Download the Tellme by Mobile beta by visiting (or from your mobile phone).

Nothing’s better than free, but one can’t help but wonder where the pony is, since today mobile phone carriers generally charge for 411 calls. Tellme co-founder Angus Davis explains the new services will likely be supported by ads and that the mobile phone service:

… will be available on 50 of the most popular phones from Sprint and Cingular, Davis says. For now, it works with phones built on the Symbian mobile platform and those that run Sun Microsystems’ Java software. Tellme also plans a version for Microsoft’s Windows Mobile platform.

Looks like Microsoft has some integration work to do on both the technical and monetization sides.

Filed under Acquisitions, Advertising, Coopetition, General Business, Microsoft, Online Services, Tellme, Windows Mobile

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