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"The 411 Parable": Make sure you are playing the same game.

Android Voice Search

par·a·ble A parable is a succinct story, in prose or verse, that illustrates a lesson. [source Wikipedia]

Hardly a week goes by where a message doesn't arrive in my inbox stating someone has launched something we should have done or at the very least should immediately do now... we are all guilty of that reactionary thinking. When it happens to me I remind myself of what I'll call "The 411 Parable" and take a bit of time and figure out just what is really going on before I react.

The 411 Parable

Some time in 2007 Google announced to the world that 1-800-GOOG-411 was coming on the scene to save you from using a phone book by letting you to speak to find a local business, a nice simple feature that made your burgeoning mobile life easier.

That same day I can imagine in Redmond, WA inside the Microsoft campus an Outlook new mail chime rang... Google launched a 411 service, where is ours? and I am guessing the response was "It's on the list!" and time passed...

Sometime in 2009 someone revived the list and thankfully found a company they could pay to power Bing 411 at launch it was said...

This value-added content should give Microsoft some steady ground to stand on when going head-to-head against Google for the same local space.

...nice, I'm sure they were happy to have that feature covered. But just when the "head-to-head" competition was rolling Google announced GOOG-411 was no more... they'd captured all the human speech they needed to train their algorithms and were on to bigger and better things... Huh, voice recognition... algorithms?

I thought Google was just disintermediating that darn phone book?

Short story...

Take the time to understand what is driving moves... Make sure you are playing the same game, playing at the surface will leave you with nothing but a big bunch of yellow "disintermediated" paper as your "competitor" blows past you.

Insult to Injury

Oh and just so you know, in 2007 right around the same time GOOG-411 launched Microsoft had acquired TellMe for a tidy sum, they were one of the biggest players in the voice recognition space at the time that had captured over "10 billion utterances", Google was starting largely from scratch... just today I "wrote" the first paragraph of this post by speaking into my Android phone, thanks GOOG-411 for playing a bigger game.

-Ben

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