Sunday, March 20, 2005

SMS Search

In 2000, I had a chance to spend quite a bit of time in the UK while I was developing the UK version of TiVo. While there, I got hooked on using SMS. You could just call for directory information, and they would text you back the directory listing for the company/person you were looking up.

Since then, I have been an active user of text messaging. For the first few years, text messaging didn't work so well in the US. You had to know what carrier the person you were texting used to make sure you could reach them from your carrier. T-Mobile -> AT&T worked fine, but if you were texting a Sprint customer, Fugettaboutit. (BTW, I've got T-Mobile and they're great)

Finally, 5 years later, text messaging has really caught on in the US. Not only can you send people quick messages via SMS, but there are even IM/Email <-> SMS gateways which let you send an instant message or email to someone via SMS.

Last week, I had the opportunity to meet a cool guy, Zaw Thet, who is VP of Products at 4Info. 4Info is doing some really cool things with SMS and web search. Google has been playing around with this, but 4Info is taking it to a new level. All you have to do is compose a short text message and send it to 4INFO (44636). An example search would be "weather 94566" and 4Info would respond with the weather forecast for Pleasanton, California. Or, if you want to look up the number for Baja Fresh in Palo Alto, simply text "Baja Fresh, Palo Alto, CA" and 4Info will text you back the listing. Rumor is that 4Info has recently secured a healthy round of venture funding. If the rest of the team is as sharp as Zaw, you'll be hearing a lot more about them. Try 4Info on your phone, I think you'll like it.

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