Opinion: Why it’s better to Call Genie than Say Hello
Voice-enabled mobile search is a pretty hot area at the moment, and there is nobody more active in the market than Nuance. After completing two significant acquisitions in Voice Signal and Tegic Communications, it’s now busy incorporating its technology into Tom Tom Go navigation devices. The company is doing a great job in its chosen field but we’re not sure that Say Hello, an ad-supported free directory assistance service, is the best implementation of its technology. Meanwhile, carrier-focused mobile local search provider Call Genie has introduced landmark-based search into the latest release of its Enhanced Voice Directory™ (EVD) solution (see demo here). We think that could be pretty useful if you know the area you’re going to, but aren’t aware of specifics like street names.
The US-based Say Hello service offers a wide range of directory listings through local market voice portals for free, using an ad supported model – and therein lies the problem as far as users are concerned. The delivery of search results is preceded by a 10-12 second audio ad. This kind of model has been tried many times before in both the fixed and mobile voice markets, has never really worked, and yet providers still seem to think the idea has legs. As we commented when easyjet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou floated this as a model he could use to resurrect the easymobile brand, this kind of advertising is intrusive and, if it’s is coming between the user and the information he needs, extremely annoying.
On the other hand, the latest release of Call Genie’s EVD™ technology enables users to refine their voice searches with references to local landmarks, neighbourhoods or intersections in US towns and cities with a population greater than 300,000. We can see this feature being useful to residents and visitors alike, if for example they’re running early for a meeting, know the neighbourhood they are in, and want to find somewhere to stop off for a coffee. Especially since, as the service is still a voice-enabled one, it’s also perfect for use via a hands-free kit while driving. We just hope easymobile doesn’t decide to purchase the solution and play ads that come between a caffeine junkie and his double espresso.