Jacksonville Site of First "Say Hello" Local Voice Portal

Toronto-based Call Genie announced that the first of many prospective metropolitan "America Say Hello" voice portals will be launched in Jacksonville, FL, in conjunction with Morris Communications' Florida Times Union. The service will be called "Jax Say Hello" and will include "free" (advertiser supported) access to residential, business and government telephone listings, augmented by proven, high-volume information services, like sports scores, weather, movie theater listings and selected classified advertising (cars and real estate).

America Say Hello, based in Mountain View, CA, is an early-stage company with ambitious plans to roll-out local voice portal services in several cities around the country. Morris Communications, which publishes 27 newspapers around the U.S. is one of its investors. In addition to the Times Union, its largest holding, Morris operates newspapers in Augusta, GA; Topeka, KS; Lubbock, TX; Savannah, GA; and Amarillo, TX.

The service combines automated Directory Assistance and information services with live operator assistance from outsourcing specialist iTouchPoint (ITP). This mixture of voice automation, IP-based call routing and live agent intervention exemplifies the most promising architecture for cost-effective, voice-based services. The Call Genie front end puts local directory listings and category search into the core of the service. Participation of a newspaper publisher as investor and advertising/content provider stand to make "Say Hello" set the stage for meaningful competition with other "free" DA platforms at the local level.