Google 411: A Sad Farewell

“Google! Say the business and the city and state,” will soon be a thing of the past. Google recently announced they will be retiring Google 411 on November 12th after 3+ years.

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Google 411 was Google’s first foray into voice-recognition by offering a free voice-powered directory assistance service in 2007. The service allowed you to call 1-800-GOOG-411 and find information on a specific business, have the information texted to your phone, or be connected to them directly. As mentioned in their blog post, Google used GOOG-411 to work on voice-powered technology and gain experience to use as a foundation for other voice products.

In the announcement, Google says,

Our success encouraged us to aim for more innovation. Thus, we’re putting all of our resources into speech-enabling the next generation of Google products and services

This makes sense, as they have started to release more and more voice-powered services for Android-powered devices such as Voice Search or Voice Actions. However being the cynic that I am, I think this is also in part to get users who have yet to adopt smart phones to do so.

What Now?

Haven’t upgraded to a smart phone? Wondering how you’re going to get the number to order pizza at 3am? Well don’t fear, you can still text Google to receive the same information.

What do you think of this move by Google to retire Goog-411? Do you think it’s a cynical bid to sell more Android devices, or simply retiring an aging service? Please let us know in the comments below!

Images courtesy: Google, A Storied Career
  • Bob

    i’m going to go ahead and say that goog-411 was not super reliable in small towns – saying the name of my tiny town confused the computer and frustrated me, whereas typing it in a text got me accurate results.

    having said that, eliminating a program available to all individuals and making it accessible only to those who have the money to afford a smartphone and the programs that come with them seems like part of an elitist agenda on google’s information to restrict information to the wealthy. sure, it can be seen as a move to sell more androids, but to those who are not stuck in a struggle of “which smartphone do i buy” and rather wonder, “can i afford a cellphone?” getting rid of the program seems like a move to exclude us.

    i’d allow this as a capitalistic move if it wasn’t for the fact that google is kind of a superpower already and doesn’t really need the monetary help.

  • Marg

    Does sound a bit like a capitalistic move.. though Goog411’s voice recognition was heads above all the other frustratingly unintelligent systems I’ve come across in most businesses and I guess I can’t be mad about benefitting from something that was gifted for a time. For me it worked well in both metropolitan and obscure towns across the States even with foreign-language influenced names, and has improved its filtering of background noise since the beginning.

    Though admittedly apprehensive about the trend of Google moving services that we’ve come to depend while offered free into paid services, I believe the voice recognition applications should certainly benefit us beyond the android/smartphone market.. hopefully Google will continue to offer these services accessibly so that this doesn’t become a negative trend for Google users.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think they should have closed the service, it couldn’t have taken that much computing power to keep it running. But we have other options; texting google like you mentioned or Microsoft’s competition 1-800-BING-411

  • Kevinboca

    1-800-BING-411 baby! Much, much better than GOOG411 anyway. Good riddance!

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