I was apparently under the incorrect impression that Tellme would be more deeply integrated into Windows Mobile 6.5 across the board. However I was corrected by Tellme that the deeper integration in fact exists but only on a single device: the Samsung Intrepid, which offers a dedicated Tellme button. We haven't tried the phone but PC World was very impressed:
The Sprint Intrepid has a dedicated button for the TellMe feature. Press it, and you can start a text message by saying "text" and the contact's name. Then, you can just dictate your message, and the phone will transcribe it. You are, of course, able to check it before sending the message. The search function is even easier, as you can just say what you're looking for, and in one step the phone initiates a Bing search.
Click on the image below to see a video demo:
It's going to be very difficult to get all WinMo OEMs to put a hardware button like this on the phone, but Microsoft should try. All Android phones have a dedicated search button that launches Google.
Tellme and the deep, integrated voice control that it offers on this Samsung device is the kind of strategic differentiator that gives Windows Phones something to crow about and promote to end users. It will also boost Bing. Microsoft should "bake" Tellme much more deeply into Window Mobile 7.
We'll see what happens.
Related: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer deflects Windows Mobile 6.5 criticism (with Gizmodo video):
"At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter what the critics say, it matters what the customers say."