I was playing around with 4INFO today and it’s pretty cool. To test the functionality, I send a SMS to 44636 with “united 352” as the subject and got a reply in about 30 seconds with flight data detail. 4INFO supports lots of things in much the same way like weather, sports scores, etc.
4INFO displays targeted advertisements based on personal information. Advertisers (including ad serving companies) may assume that people who interact with, view, or click on targeted ads meet the targeting criteria - for example, women who have searched for nail salons in a particular geographic area.
All of the information that 4INFO provides I can easily access with my Treo, but I could definitely see how this would be a useful service if you did not have data services active on a phone or did not even have a web browsing option on a phone. I could definitely see a mobile carrier acquiring a company like this or simply cloning its service offerings as a driver for SMS usage instead of advertising revenue.
I agree that Google SMS is much better. I was just testing a new service.
At this time, 4INFO and Google have a different set of services outside of the core offerings, so based on what your interests are... you may choose 4INFO because they provide sports scores and player stats, while Google provides dictionary definitions and currency conversion. At some point, the channels will match and it will be a service game. Meaning, whomever provides better service will get the customer. And, at that point, you will have to ask yourself whether 1 company doing 300 things provides better service than 1 company doing 1 thing.
In our research here at 4INFO, we have discovered that advertising isn't taboo. But, it must be extremely targeted, relevant and unobtrusive. The consumer wants, of course, the info they requested. For example, if you searched "pizza 92111" then you want to see results for pizza places, but would not be opposed to an advertisement from a pizza place in the area you searched. It is marketing in the long tail. There are constraints, of course, because we only want to include an ad if the above 3 things apply AND there is room in the SMS reply.
So far, we haven't ANY trouble keeping users' trust! :-)
Finally, let me leave you with this quote, “When asked recently for the address of a trendy downtown Manhattan club called Butter, both 4INFO and Yahoo! located it on the first try. But Google sent back results better suited to baking.”
- Wendy Widman, Forbes.com
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