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Predictive Text + Speech = Improved Input for Mobile Search

The $265 million that Nuance Communications is paying for Tegic is a sign that predictive texting (like Tegic's T9 protocol) can complement, rather than compete with, automated speech-based dictation. When the leading automated speech processing technology provider makes a point of acquiring a company who's core product had long been trying to make dictation systems unnecessary, there's obviously more to it than meets the eye.

Today, a three-year-old company called TravellingWave came out of stealth mode to announce that it is fast approaching the point where it will formally introduce embedded speech processing software that supports "predictive speech-to-text" translation. Ashwin Rao, the founder of TravellingWave, told us that, while other embedded speech recognition software vendors position their products as "keyboard replacements", TravellingWave sees it as a keyboard enhancement. Thus the stage is now set for solutions providers to support more efficient and speedy entry of data or text in the form that is most appropriate to the task at hand.

TravellingWave sees dictation of text messages and e-mail, as well as the input of mobile search terms, as core application areas. The product is at a "very advanced beta stage" right now. Today's press release was to serve notice that it had received funding from a sophisticated set of angel investors with experience at McCaw Cellular, Microsoft, Nextel and Google.

Predictive speech-to-text is a subtle enhancement to multimodal communications. Classic xHTML+Voice Profiles (X+V) based of multimodal applications let Web-based services treat spoken words like text-input. Most instantiations use speech for input and render prompts or system responses as text, graphics or Web pages. Predictive speech-to-text allows for users to toggle back and forth between modes of input using keyboards or keypads if necessary or appropriate to overcome noisy conditions or protect privacy.

According to Rao, the technology is designed to "build on what people use already." The intellectual property is built around handling tens of thousands of of words in ways that support both predictive typing and spoken utterances. The beta software is a stand-alone speech-to-SMS application. According to company spokespeople, users "have the impression that it would have taken them a much longer time to finish their tasks if they hadn't used the application."

InfoSpace Pursuing Dual Carrier-Consumer Stategy

Infospace

Direct Magazine features and profiles the mobile InfoSpace FindIt application (now on Blackberry and the iPhone). The piece also discusses some of the historical usability challenges of local mobile search and mobile devices more generally.

InfoSpace is moving aggressively to promote its mobile services, both as a carrier platform/white label offering and as a direct-to-consumer offering. The company has also teamed up with Fast Search & Transfer on its white label solution, which competes with services JumpTap and Medio Systems.

InfoSpace has struggled to gain traction, despite its considerable assets in search and local search (Dogpile, InfoSpace.com, Switchboard). It has an opportunity in mobile to establish a better user experience and gain direct consumer adoption at a time when usage patterns and brand loyalty in mobile have substantially yet to be established. However, the company faces formidable competition from the major search engines, particularly Google.

The slow pace of carrier deals and the fact that dependence on carriers is a risky strategy has compelled InfoSpace to go out directly to users.

'Idle Screen Insertion': Mobile Pop-Ups?

There's considerable data that shows consumers are highly ambivalent about mobile advertising. However, with approximately 230 million users in the U.S. alone and more than 2.5 billion globally, the "mobile Internet" represents a large, yet still hypothetical advertising opportunity. The equivalent of paid search (including PPCall) advertising right now has the highest probability of success, but mobile coupons are also promising.

But where does that leave brand advertisers? Putting aside mobile video pre-rolls, so-called banner blindness will likely be more prevalent in mobile, unless graphical ads can become highly targeted and/or be tied to compelling offers.

But now companies such as Mobile Posse and Acuity Mobile have developed what are being called "idle screen" ads. One way to regard these is as an alternative form of graphical advertising. Another way is as the equivalent of mobile pop-ups.

This InfoWorld piece discusses the effort:

The ads appear not when customers are using a browser, but they can pop up on the phone's idle screen any time.

These companies, such as Mobile Posse and Acuity Mobile, say they're working to ensure that the ads are so useful to customers that they won't be annoying.

Mobile Posse offers what it calls idle screen ad insertion. After downloading a small application onto a phone, users start getting advertisements that often include discount coupons on their phones.

There are numerous challenges here:

  • Likely consumer resistance or non-acceptance
  • Necessary carrier relationships
  • Download requirements

The mobile banner itself has a dubious future right now. If "idle screen" ads can be sufficiently targeted, offer deals/discounts and are opt-in there's an interesting potential opportunity for brand advertisers and others. The value proposition to consumers has to be crystal clear, however, and not remotely suggest the online pop-up -- which is roundly despised and is largely dead.

If idle screen ads can be spun as coupons or highly targeted offers, perhaps there's a future for these ads. Otherwise, they're effectively dead on arrival.

Nuance Launches GPS Voice Search for BlackBerry

Voice search and speech services provider Nuance announced that its Voice Control application is now available for BlackBerry phones. The subscription-based Voice Control is a "one-click mobile search and messaging application" that uses the phone's GPS capabilities to minimize user input requirements.

The multi-modal application allows people to verbally ask for nearby business categories (using GPS) and see results displayed on screen, together with maps, etc. There's also a similar turn-by-turn directions capability.

Dial Directions offers some of the same functionality but without the GPS requirement (and doesn't have mulit-modality right now).

The growing list of mobile voice-search services and providers, including Goog411, 800-Free411, Tellme, 800-YellowPages, CallGenie and V-Enable reflect that voice will play a significant role in the mainstreaming of local search on mobile devices. Ultimately multi-modal applications with a voice option or front end will be the norm across applications.

AdMob: 5 Billion Served

According to an article in MediaPost, AdMob served its "5 billionth mobile ad" (that's on a global basis) and is now serving a billion ads per month across its partner network of mobile sites. The company's clients include marquee brands such as Starbucks, JCPenney, Atlantic Records and Coca-Cola.

Almost 50% of these impressions come from three markets: the U.S., U.K. and South Africa.

What it indicates is that the mobile Internet as an ad-distribution platform is real. However, it's not mainstream. Research from Ingenio and Harris Interactive (more for clients), conducted earlier this year among U.S. mobile users, found that a majority of consumers (70%) could not remember having seen (or heard) mobile ads within the past year.

That same research also reflects powerful consumer ambivalence about mobile advertising, suggesting that "relevant" sponsored search-style ads have the best hope (so far) of gaining consumer attention and adoption.

Is It Phishing? Or is it PayPal Mobile?

Every day I receive at least five e-mails purported to be from PayPal, urging me to update my account information. Given that I don't have a PayPal account, it's an easy choice to route it to my Spam filter along with alerts from the Fifth Third Bank. But the launch of PayPal Mobile appears to have given Phishers a new area of opportunity, and one that appears more insidious. With $500,000 in "Instant Prizes" as incentive, the PayPal (or faux PayPal) folks encourage recipients to "Activate PayPal Mobile Now!"

Does PayPal offer a mobile payment system? Yes...

It has a couple of flavors actually. An SMS/text based service to provide instructions for payment, donation and money transfer launched in March 2007. In mid-July, PayPal added a "portable checkout" which allows registered mobile subscribers in the UK, US and Canada to buy items from participating merchant Web sites. Examples of such merchant sites are SkyMall, DVD Planet, Moosejaw Mountaineering and ElectronicsShowplace.com.

Is the sweepstakes email from PayPal? Who knows...

But one thing is certain, payment systems security mavens regard wireless devices as the most inherently insecure pieces of transaction processing hardware in existence. "Think of the PC prior to the introduction of a security kernel and you'll understand where the smartphone is these days," I was told. "It's wide open."

This observation seemed to be validated by all the hackers who have exposed the vulnerability of passwords stored in the iPhone. Symbian, Windows Mobile, and PalmOS are just as bad.

Yet there is no question that payments initiated as text messages from mobile phones are already generating great interest and payment activity. For such activities PayPal Mobile and PayPal Checkout have competition from Obopay (already supported by Verizon Wireless) and textpayme.com. Such text-based services are relatively "secure" because they use the same payment "gateway" that other online merchants use, relying mostly on password protected access to payment instructions.

Perhaps it's a sign of early success to see that mobile payments through PayPal have sufficient critical mass to attract Phisher-folk.

ShopLocal Adds Mobile Shopping Service

ShopLocal has introduced a mobile application powered by Where (uLocate). Where/uLocate sees itself as a distribution channel and platform for third-party content providers. It has the relationship with carriers and thus can offer GPS to the third parties that would otherwise not be able to offer that capability

The ShopLocal application requires a download and costs $2.99 a month. Because the service is new and not available for all phones we haven't been able to test it. ShopLocal itself has limited expectations, recognizing the application is largely in the realm of early adopters (the fee also keeps people away). In terms of consumer behavior and reach text is much more widely used than WAP, which is more widely used than downloadable applications in turn.

That fact is what motivated Yahoo to release oneSearch for all WAP browsers rather than wait for Go to be preloaded on new handsets.

Local shopping search provider NearbyNow has had success with SMS based mobile promotions and search, which has been in the market since the holiday season. The service complements its main Internet-based service. And GPShopper has a service called Slifter, which in partnership with Sprint, offers GPS shopping and local product inventory information.

Retail and shopping is a category that will be widely used in mobile to check prices, store locations and, eventually, local inventory.

Survey: SMS While Driving Should Be Outlawed

According to an online survey conducted in late June, by Harris Interactive (2,000 US adults) for Pinger, a large majority of U.S. adults believe that reading or sending email or text messages from behind the wheel is as dangerous as drunk driving and should be outlawed -- yet a majority have done it themselves.

Pinger is a service that voice-enables text messaging. The company is using the survey to promote its service.

Here are some additional top-level findings:

  • 91% of adults thought that drivers distracted by sending text messages or mobile email were as dangerous as drivers who had a couple of drinks
  • 89% believe that sending emails or SMS messages while driving should be outlawed
  • 66% of adults that have used text messaging have read text messages or emails while driving
  • 57% of that population admitted sending SMS messages or emails while driving
  • 64 % of adults who admitted to sending text messages while driving were between the ages of 18 and 34, while only 6% were 55 or older
  • Men and women sent text messages while driving at equal rates

State legislatures are starting to address the issue, with Washintong having passed the first ban on SMS while driving. Numerous other states including CA and NY are considering a similar ban.

Cellfire Releases Mobile Coupon Redemption Data

It's a great idea "on paper" -- so to speak -- mobile coupons, that is. They've arrived in principle but not really in practice. Internet-based coupons have yet to take off, although they're poised to do so. But mobile coupons, despite being available today, are even farther off as a mainstream marketing phenomenon. (That is, perhaps, unless they morph into SMS-based ads.)

The idea of being able to search for coupons when you're on the go is appealing to virtually everyone, however the challenge is coverage and user adoption. Eventually coupons (or some equivalent) will make their way into the mobile marketing mix but it will be a little while. Even Cellfire, the leader in mobile couponing right now, has very limited coverage in terms of the consumer offers available.

Last week, the company put out data on mobile coupon redemption for the six months ending June 30:

Top 10 Markets for Mobile Coupon Usage per Capita:

  1. Miami/Fort Lauderdale
  2. Sacramento/Stockton/Modesto, CA
  3. Chico/Redding, CA
  4. Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
  5. Waco/Temple-Bryan, TX
  6. El Paso (Las Cruces), TX (NM)
  7. San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, CA
  8. Jonesboro, AR
  9. West Palm Beach/Fort Pierce, FL
  10. Atlanta, GA

According to Cellfire:

Not surprisingly, 68 percent of coupons redeemed were from mobile savvy shoppers between the ages of 18-34, followed by shoppers aged 35-44 with 18 percent. Food and entertainment topped the list of categories for which coupons were most frequently redeemed.

The fact that Sacramento and Chico, CA beat out the San Francisco Bay Area, shows how small the user base is right now. The model is right: opt-in offers from local merchants and national advertisers with local stores. In the near term it will mostly be about big boxes and chains. But eventually SMBs may play in the space if enabled by sites such as Zixxo and others. But for right now there's the familiar and fundamental "chicken and egg problem." In order to gain consumer adoption, the coupon/offer coverage must be there and to entice advertisers to pay attention there must be an audience. The advantage that coupons have is that they can be translated into other formats (including mobile) if the infrastructure exists to support them and prevent fraud.

As I suggested above mobile "coupons" may give way to offer-based SMS marketing in the near term not unlike the way MoVoxx (started by the founders of Infreeda) went from being a mobile coupon provider to an SMS ad agency/network.

LMS in the News: Mobile Europe - August 1, 2007

Excerpt:
Location-based services are making a comeback. The initial excitement about them fizzled out because neither the phones nor the data plans could deliver. What's more, the vision of a service that could push coupons to users as they passed stores and shops was a privacy nightmare, observes Greg Sterling, a senior analyst at Local Mobile Search, an advisory service from Opus Research and Sterling Market Intelligence.

"It was a pipedream, and even if it would have worked in principle, it lacked the context to be more than annoying spam," Sterling says. After all, a coupon for a restaurant is pretty much meaningless unless the service can establish the mobile user is looking for a place to eat. It's an important piece of the location services puzzle that can be provided by mobile search. In Sterling's view mobile search is the ingredient that can turn location-based services into profitable value propositions.

This new breed of location-based services is bound to take off - but only if it's offered free to consumers, Sterling says. This is borne out by data from Opus and Local Mobile Search that predicts a dismal future for the paid directory service business. It reckons revenues will drop from $3.5 billion in 2006 to $1.8 billion by 2010 in the U.S. alone. At the same time the advertiser-supported model, which offers consumers free directory services, is expected to increase to a $3 billion business in 2010 from $203 million in 2006.

From the article, "Taking search to another level", Mobile Europe, August 1, 2007

Dial Directions Launches with Impressive Capabilities

I spoke yesterday with Amit Desai, co-founder and chief product officer of Dial Directions (347-328-4667), a new voice-based local mobile search service. It offers an impressive voice interface that allows users to identify where they are and a desired location and receive a text message back with turn-by-turn directions. You can also use the service to find the nearest location of a particular business (right now chains: e.g., Peet's Coffee or a specific address).

The demo I heard on the phone and in my subsequent several tests were impressive. The voice recognition and call flow was easy to use and accurate. The service is available now in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles. Underlying data are being provided by multiple sources and directions are from MapQuest. The service will quickly expand to other cities and add additional capabilities in the near future.

While this is being presented as a free way to receive directions the service is very clearly a local mobile search tool. As more data are added to the database it will be something that people use to find the "nearest (type of business)." Desai and I also spoke about social features that will be added to the product over time.

Beyond the quality of the speech recognition, the thing that makes this service relatively unique is that you can identify your currently location in an easy way (by intersection, address) and it effectively turns a conventional mobile phone into a GPS device.

The service is free and the business model will be advertising, but not audio adds like those on Free411 or AT&T's 800-Yellowpages. Rather they'll be text ads on the SMS messages that users receive in response to their queries. (A similar offering exists in the UK with Miva's PPText ads on the 118118 service.) Dial Directions wants to partner with existing sales channels and mobile ad networks rather than do direct sales.

Desai sees the service as a direct-to-consumer play but also a white label offering for carriers and others that want to add this functionality to enhanced directory assistance or their existing services

It's very clear that the increasing competition in voice-enabled local mobile search is going to accelerate the development of the products and feature sets being offered to consumers and that voice search on mobile devices will be the first mass-market local mobile search tool that gains broad user adoption.

Google: Two Outta Four Ain't Bad

Google might be wondering: "How does that Meatloaf song go?"

The search engine is seeking to penetrate and open up the walled garden that is the US wireless market. Carriers are the gatekeepers, controlling access and the devices available to consumers. In Europe the situation is quite different, allowing consumers to buy any phone and essentially use them with any operator. Google had made a very public appeal to the FCC to provide more open access to the wireless spectrum to be offered at the upcoming auction.

The company had set a number of conditions that it believes would benefit consumers and lead to more innovation in mobile. Yesterday, the FCC gave Google some -- but not all -- of what it wanted.

Google had asked for four things from the FCC:

  • Open applications: consumers should be able to download and utilize any software applications, content, or services they desire;
  • Open devices: consumers should be able to utilize a handheld communications device with whatever wireless network they prefer;
  • Open services: third parties (resellers) should be able to acquire wireless services from a 700 MHz licensee on a wholesale basis, based on reasonably nondiscriminatory commercial terms; and
  • Open networks: third parties (like internet service providers) should be able to interconnect at a technically feasible point in a 700 MHz licensee's wireless network.

Google got two out of those four from the FCC. The company offered qualified praise for the move on its public policy blog. The part that Google did not get was compulsory access to the network on a wholesale basis from the auction winner.

It now remains to be seen whether Google does put up some or all of the the $4.6 billion it said it would potentially bid for the spectrum if its conditions were met.

There's more discussion at Techmeme. Offficial FCC statements are also available here.

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.

Mobile Europe - August 1, 2007

Excerpt:

Location-based services are making a comeback. The initial excitement about them fizzled out because neither the phones nor the data plans could deliver. What's more, the vision of a service that could push coupons to users as they passed stores and shops was a privacy nightmare, observes Greg Sterling, a senior analyst at Local Mobile Search, an advisory service from Opus Research and Sterling Market Intelligence.

"It was a pipedream, and even if it would have worked in principle, it lacked the context to be more than annoying spam," Sterling says. After all, a coupon for a restaurant is pretty much meaningless unless the service can establish the mobile user is looking for a place to eat. It's an important piece of the location services puzzle that can be provided by mobile search. In Sterling's view mobile search is the ingredient that can turn location-based services into profitable value propositions.

This new breed of location-based services is bound to take off - but only if it's offered free to consumers, Sterling says. This is borne out by data from Opus and Local Mobile Search that predicts a dismal future for the paid directory service business. It reckons revenues will drop from $3.5 billion in 2006 to $1.8 billion by 2010 in the U.S. alone. At the same time the advertiser-supported model, which offers consumers free directory services, is expected to increase to a $3 billion business in 2010 from $203 million in 2006.

From the article, "Taking search to another level", Mobile Europe, August 1, 2007

Google: Speech One of Two Big Research Projects

A couple of weeks ago MIT's Technology Review published an interview with Google Director of Research Peter Norvig that explores his (and presumably Google's) thinking about problems in search and "next-generation" search functionality that Google is working on. Speech recognition, which powers Goog411, is one of the two big research projects the company is working on right now.

Here are some relevant excerpts from the interview:

Q: Which research has the most people and funding?

NORVIG: The two biggest projects are machine translation and the speech project. Translation and speech went all the way from one or two people working on them to, now, live systems.

Q: Like the Google Labs project called GOOG-411 [a free service that lets people search for local businesses by voice, over the phone]. Tell me more about it.

NORVIG: I think it's the only major [phone-based business-search] service of its kind that has no human fallback. It's 100 percent automated, and there seems to be a good response to it. In general, it looks like things are moving more toward the mobile market, and we thought it was important to deal with the market where you might not have access to a keyboard or might not want to type in search queries.

Q: And speech recognition can also be important for video search, isn't it? Blinkx and Everyzing are two examples of startups that are using the technology to search inside video. Is Google working on something similar?

NORVIG: Right now, people aren't searching for video much. If they are, they have a very specific thing in mind like "Coke" and "Mentos." People don't search for things like "Show me the speech where so-and-so talks about this aspect of Middle East history." But all of that information is there, and with speech recognition, we can access it.

We wanted speech technology that could serve as an interface for phones and also index audio text. After looking at the existing technology, we decided to build our own. We thought that, having the data and computational resources that we do, we could help advance the field. Currently, we are up to state-of-the-art with what we built on our own, and we have the computational infrastructure to improve further. As we get more data from more interaction with users and from uploaded videos, our systems will improve because the data trains the algorithms over time.

___

Google's apparent commitment to speech is striking and reflects its importance in mobile, but longer term in other areas on the desktop. Anecdotal evidence suggests users are fairly happy with the Goog411 service though it has no human agent backup and fails to recognize queries some percentage of the time.

iPhone Becoming a Hot Mobile Development Platform

Infospace

The iPhone, despite falling short of some analysts' projections/expectations, still sold 270,000 units in less than 30 hours. Largely because it sparked a debate about mobile usability and is starting to influence the designs of other handset makers, the iPhone has already had a dramatic impact on the market – even at these sales levels.

Plus the fashion statement and "cool factor" of having an iPhone is unparalleled. Blackberry users and some Treo owners love their phones, but they don't have the same pizzazz. It's very much akin to the PC market: PCs are gray, utilitarian boxes while Apple has been able to create buzz and excitement about iMacs and laptops (as well as iPods) through careful attention to product design.

Now a broad range of third-party developers are creating applications for the iPhone (not unlike Facebook on the desktop or ZenZui or Where in mobile) that may accelerate its momentum and have already made it the hottest mobile platform. Add to that list of applications InfoSpace's local search tool FindIt!.

InfoSpace's Joe Herzog said to me this morning in an email:

This is part of an overall push to create more distribution on high end media devices and to support AT&T as a major distribution point for Find It. And an effort to get to "free" across the board for consumers. The user experience was optimized for the iPhone browsing experience. We view the iPhone as a critical tipping point for the use of mobile media and mobile applications in general and will continue to support this platform with aggressive upgrades.

FindIt! joins Google Maps as a second specialized local search application on the device. Of course users have access, through Safari, to any local site online. InfoSpace has a similar application for the Blackberry, as well as working with wireless carriers such as AT&T and Sprint to provide local data, directions and mapping functionality.

Sprint and Google in WiMax Deal

Wireless carrier Sprint and Google have announced a partnership in which Google will provide "Web search, interactive communications and social networking services on devices for the new high-speed wireless network the carrier is building," according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Sprint is building a national WiMax broadband network to provide consumers with wireless Internet access. Among the services Google will reportedly be providing to Sprint are general Web search, GTalk and, potentially, other services.

What's interesting here is that Sprint previously announced a far-reaching partnership with Microsoft characterized as "a strategic alliance through which the companies will develop and deliver a range of innovative new service offerings for Sprint’s business and consumer customers." That deal includes search on mobile phones but Sprint has obviously chosen another partner for search on its burgeoning WiMax network.

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Related: Coverage of the announcement from Reuters.

Google's $4.6 Billion Bandwidth Bid Signals Buy-in to Mobile Applications

picture

Precis

Local Mobile Search Advisory
The giant company whose name is synonymous with Web search is ready to invest a minimum of $4.6 billion to acquire wireless bandwidth that is unfettered by carrier affiliation, device "lock-in" and general lack of "openness." Google is joined by a number of other service providers who would like to attain access to a national wireless network on a wholesale basis. With an auction scheduled for the first quarter of 2008, the cause of Local Mobile Search will have a decidedly national, even global, scope.

Featured Research is available to registered users only.

For more information on becoming an I2G client, please contact Pete Headrick ([email protected]).


TomTom To Spend over $2.5 billion for Tele Atlas

The market for personal navigation devices is growing rapidly, and TomTom NV has been a direct beneficiary. It is a profitable company whose U.S. sales, in terms of units will more than double in 2007 over 2006 (reaching 6-7 million units). But TomTom's executive team is made up of product and marketing managers who have brought new solutions to the marketplace, like the addition of a highly effective automated speech-based interfaces and the rendering the core product as software that can be downloaded to smartphones.

Acquiring Tele Atlas is an exercise in vertical integration. TomTom knows that complete solutions include much more than PNDs (Personal Navigation Devices); they include software and services that are instantiated as auto electronics or software in wireless devices. Tele Atlas and TomTom have enjoyed a long and prosperous vendor/supplier relationship. In the past few years, Tele Atlas has aggressively pursued opportunities and partnerships in Local Mobile Search - having its database and services baked into solutions from Google, Yahoo! and MSN as well as mobile device makers RIM and Nokia.

The combination of TomTom and Tele Atlas brings together a company that has demonstrated responsiveness to user requirements for a positive experience through a multiplicity of devices and modalities, with a data aggregator/supplier that has extensive experience forging relationships with go-to-market partners with solutions of their own. In a recent presentation to financial analysts, Rik Temmink, Sr. Director of Segment Marketing, demonstrated that Tele Atlas fully appreciates the need to integrate local content and advertising with core maps and navigation.

Few other firms also understand from first hand experience the need to solidify business models and division of revenue schemes that benefit provide sufficient incentive for all involved. Presently, Tele Atlas has three possibilities: (1) a percentage of a user subscription fee or per query fee; (2) Subscription fees for "navigation upsells" (per Nokia); and (3) Fee for "API access" from other companies' applications (as they are doing with RIM).

In the near future, the combination of TomTom and Tele Atlas expect to garner revenues that combine device sales with a split of the revenue for map licensing and advertising.

Search Engine Exalead Broadens France EDA Service

Gary Price at ResourceShelf alerted me to the fact that enhanced DA provider 118218 in France (owned by InfoNXX, which also operates the U.K.'s 118118) has now considerably expanded its service using content and results from EU search engine Exalead. Users in France pay for 118128 like traditional directory assistance in the U.S., although it's considerably broader in scope.

In the U.S., Tellme, 1-800-YellowPages, Jingle Networks and Google (Goog411) are seeking to offer free, ad-supported enhanced DA. However, with the exception of Tellme, the only real enhancement vs. traditional is business category search.

And like Jingle's Free411, 118128 also offers a companion Internet local search and shopping site. In the U.K., InfoNXX's 118118 features ads, including contextual ads in return text messages responding to DA queries.