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.