BIG vs little

We just made an interesting observation in a news article that covered a recent patent award that Google received for a voice interface for search engines. Further, this was coupled with Google’s posting its voice based search application, Google Mobile, to  Apple’s App Store for the iPhone. As we are already big users of Google’s SMS search capability, it struck us as rather interesting to follow this to a future scenario.

The fallout

In our analysis of this situation we believe that a number of different areas will be affected:

  1. Yellow pages and phone directories: Carriers say goodbye to 75cents (or whatever it is?) per call for data look up from your customers. Google will, in all likelihood, do it for free and faster. Who’s affected? Any provider of white or yellow pages.
  2. Voice interaction providers: Caution! Trouble! Danger! Evaluate your business model and consider what you can do to navigate to areas of the market that Google will likely not be interested in. There will be clear market niches but the world of voice recognition has now got a 900lb gorilla lurking about and it’s free. Who’s affected? Companies such as Call Genie (of our home and native land), start up Promptu, and V-enable to name a few.
  3. Information providers: If you want to cut down on the cost to handle routine incoming calls for information, that could be made publicly available, you need to figure out how to get it to Google’s search engines and do so on a live basis. Who’s affected? Anyone who want to cut their call cost down.
  4. End users: While you may enticed by the convenience of the service possibilities you must consider what Google plans to do with the data. The patent application seems to indicate that the company plans to keep logs of voice searches, in order to improve relevancy and speech recognition capabilities. Their logic is slightly flawed since only the end user will know if the search result was relevant. Seems like Google will soon know every thing about us including stuff we don’t know?

The Risks

Like any Google or web 2.0 application—Caveat Emptor. While the service may be rather appealing, you must weigh the options and implications of the model that Google will ultimately propose (and impose). We’d be careful about following up what data Google intends to keep about us. They already know more about us than we can remember about ourselves.

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