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Google Announces Intention to Bid for Wireless Spectrum

Excerpts from the Google press release:

In a filing with the FCC on July 9, Google urged the Commission to adopt rules for the auction that ensure that, regardless of who wins the spectrum at auction, consumers' interests are served. Specifically, Google encouraged the FCC to require the adoption of four types of "open" platforms as part of the license conditions:

  • 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 any technically feasible point in a 700 MHz licensee's wireless network.

Today, as a sign of Google's commitment to promoting greater innovation and choices for consumers, CEO Eric Schmidt sent a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, stating that should the FCC adopt all four license conditions requested above, Google intends to commit a minimum of $4.6 billion to bidding in the upcoming 700 MHz auction.

This might be seen as a bid to force the FCC and others to comply with its conditions or compete with Google in the open market at a price of at least $4.6 billion for the licenses. But it also indicates that Google is much more serious about mobile than simply being one of several mobile search and ad networks.

Here's Google's blog posting about the issue and their thinking.

How Do You Use Your Mobile Phone?

I spent some time on Facebook last night and constructed a short poll, partly to test that feature of the site and to see what the results would be. I asked the single question, "How do you use your mobile phone?"

While the responses are not statistically valid for the entire U.S. marketplace, they are nonetheless interesting and surprisingly consistent with other data and internal estimates that Dan Miller and I have put together.

The range of potential responses to my question (there were 500 respondents) were as follows:

  • I just make calls
  • I mainly text message people
  • I call and text message people
  • I call, text and surf the mobile Internet

Here were the breakdown of responses:

  • I just make calls (10%)
  • I mainly text message people (9%)
  • I call and text message people (68%)
  • I call, text and surf the mobile Internet (14%)

The gender and age breakdown was as follows:

  • Female (91%) -- this is interesting
  • Male (9%)
  • 13-17 (40%)
  • 18-24 (55%) -- the core demographic of Facebook
  • 25-34 (4%)
  • 35-49 (>1%)

What this quick poll reveals is that (no surprise) most younger mobile users are very involved with text messaging but a meaningful number are starting to "surf the mobile Internet." The degree of frequency and engagement with mobile Internet usage will vary considerably but it's clearly growing fast.

If the data above were statistically valid and could be extrapolated to the entire US mobile user population (it cannot), that would mean about 32 million users of the mobile Internet, which is consistent with our estimate. Recently comScore and M:Metrics have put out data showing that, respectively, 17% and 15% of mobile users access Internet content on their phones.

The recent Ingenio-Harris Interactive mobile user survey (which involved US adults 18+) found a smaller number of users of the mobile Internet today (roughly 16.9 million using the same base as above). But many of the 13-17 year olds captured in the Facebook data above, who did "surf the mobile Internet" were not part of the Harris survey. Again, the Facebook data are not statistically valid but directionally interesting nonetheless . . .

Ingenio-Harris Mobile User Survey: Mobile Web to Grow, Ad Outlook Mixed

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Precis

Local Mobile Search Advisory
A recent Ingenio-sponsored survey by Harris Interactive explored a range of topics pertaining to mobile voice and data usage, as well as consumer acceptance of mobile advertising. The results show consumers are quickly expanding the use of mobile phones beyond voice-only capabilities, but monetizing those activities through mobile advertising remains an uphill battle.

Featured Research is available to registered users only.

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


WSJ: New Google Mobile Content Search Nearing Launch

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) is reporting that Google is preparing to launch a more structured mobile search capability and index for mobile content that may also include social networking features. According to the article:

Google Inc. is developing a new search service for cellphones that will help consumers find and buy ringtones, games and other mobile content ...

With the new system, users would search for a piece of content -- say, a U2 ringtone -- and get back a list of providers as well as links enabling them to easily purchase the material. Eventually, Google would charge companies for high placement in the search results ...

The company has been working for months with content providers -- including large entertainment companies and smaller mobile-media aggregators -- to index their material and make it available via mobile search ...

The Internet company has considered including a social-networking component that would let users of the company's Gmail email service exchange content, a person familiar with the initiative says. Overall, the service would work much like the Google Product Search service, formerly known as Froogle, people familiar with the situation say. A spokeswoman for Google declines to comment.

The ringtones aspect of the hypothetical service would put Google at odds with carriers -- not that that isn't already true to some degree because of carrier Googlephobia.

There's a way in which the article doesn't exactly ring true (so to speak). The article presents the concept of something akin to a separate index or engine for mobile content vs. other Google mobile services. Assuming the article is directionally correct, I would imagine that Google is seeking to create something closer to a better, more integrated mobile experience overall (akin to what Yahoo is attempting with oneSearch) with content and commerce as a subset of that broader mobile search capability.

Jingle Scores with SuperPages Relationship

One of the big challenges for the nascent ad-supported directory assistance category is ad coverage -- having enough advertisers to offer ads on enough calls to offset costs. According to its public statements, Jingle Networks is now doing call volumes of more than 20 million per month. The company asserts a per-call cost structure of roughly $.12 - $.15 per call and claims roughly 1000 advertisers to date. It has a direct sales channel for national accounts but myriad relationships with third party channels and small business aggregators such as ServiceMagic and Ingenio for local advertiser acquisitions.

With today's announced of a distribution deal with Idearc's SuperPages (the publisher of Verizon yellow pages) the company has scored a potentially major win that could mean a material difference in its revenues and ultimate fate. SuperPages has an estimated 800,000+ advertisers, not all of which will be funneled into Free411 of course. (According to SuperPages the program will immediately tap their Pay-for-Calls advertisers, which are about 5,000.)

However, the value of simple access to an established pool of advertisers of that size cannot be overstated. And it's probably far more valuable, as a practical matter, than Jingle's recently announced patent.

There are now four major national competitors in ad-supported DA:

  • 1-800-Free411 (Jingle)
  • Goog411 (not yet ad supported)
  • Tellme (Microsoft; also without ads in local)
  • 1-800-YellowPages (AT&T)

Although there other competitors, including the long-established 1-800-SanDiego, there are arguably none that can rival the resources and advantages of these major players. One exception is Verizon, which will join these ranks soon.

Voom (411): InFone Redux?

Voom 411, LLC, is trialing what it calls a first-of-its-kind, "live, local, Web-enabled" directory assistance for the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN) metropolitan area. Calls to (612) 866-6411, reach "internet savvy" live operators who will conduct search engine look-ups on behalf of callers and provide such info as phone listings; local news, weather and sports scores; events, restaurants and movie information, "and more".

Like the ill-fated InFone service from MetroOne, Voom indicates that it will require callers to provide their credit card information to support billing and collections. Pricing has not yet been announced, but the Web site indicates that $0.99 buys a bundle of nine calls. The trial period is scheduled to last until the end of August with operators on duty between 7:30 AM and 7:30 PM (Monday through Friday). Then the company promises general availability in September - meaning that service will expand to includ 7am to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and 7am to 3am on Friday and Saturday.

While we like the idea of human-assisted Web searches over the phone, Voom 411 invokes a number of alarm bells. As enhanced DA specialist MetroOne learned about five years ago, prospective callers balk at providing credit card information for pre-registered DA queries. As dozens of operator-assisted Yellow Pages service providers have discovered, $0.99 per minute will not provide sufficient profit margin to sustain a business.

Most importantly, the mobile mob is moving to "free" (meaning advertiser-supported) services.

There are some interesting business cases to be built around real-time access to experts over the telephone to support local search, but a resurrection of MetroOne's InFone strikes us as a non-starter. Voom 411 will know more after the end of its test period.

800 YELLOWPAGES Pursues California-wide Strategy

As Bakersfield goes, so goes the rest of the state - at least in terms of Free Directory Assistance. After a few short months in Bakersfield, Calif.; Columbus, Ohio; and Oklahoma City, Okla., AT&T has deemed its free directory assistance service ready for a bigger audience. Bear in mind California has something like 20% of the U.S. population. If it were an independent country it would be roughly the tenth largest economy in terms of GDP. Thus state-wide roll-out of 1-800-YELLOWPAGES (1-800 935-5697) is truly significant.

More important than the aggregate size of the California economy are the individual markets that it encompasses. In addition to general sponsorships to subsidize the initial call, AT&T is also establishing opportunities for more sponsored category search and for re-directs in some of the largest, most-affluent markets in the country, including Los Angeles, San Fancisco, San Diego and San Jose. All have much higher profiles and probably better aggregate demographics than Bakersfield (no offense).

The bottom line is that, while alternative Free DA search providers position themselves for pitched battle in the court of intellectual property, AT&T may be ready to take on rival in the marketplace of public opinion (and usage) on a local market by local market basis.

iPhone: Now Over 1 Million Served

Wall Street analysts had variously estimated that the iPhone sold somewhere between 500K and 750K units in the several days since its June 29 launch. Now comes news that there were, in fact, more than one million activations of the iPhone already. That means, obviously, more than one million were sold.

Putting aside its iPod function, the breakneck sales pace of the iPhone represents a consumer interest in and demand for more usable mobile devices. The fact that it's a fashion statement doesn't hurt. But funadmenally people are hungry for a better experience on their mobile phones -- and other handset maker have now gotten that message loud and clear. We're already seeing some "me too" devices that promise more functionality and greater ease of use start to emerge.

We should thank Apple for helping accelerate the introduction of a new generation of better and more usable phones that will help bring the mobile Internet into mainstream reality.

___

Related: The iPhone shows YouTube video; Helio goes the other way and has introduced simplified uploading of video taken with Helio phones to YouTube.

Free DA Suppliers Ready for Battle with "The Other IP"

There's nothing like a battle over intellectual property to bring attention (and perhaps notoriety) to a nascent industry. It is too early in the development life-cycle of "free" DA for the numbers to be material, but positioning for the longer run is important; so let's take stock of each recent filing to discuss its implications.

Jingle Networks is proud owner of Patent 7,212,615 for "Criteria based marketing for telephone directory assistance." Based on the description of a new service by Scott Wolmuth, filed in 2001, the patent encompasses 47 "claims" which collectively cover about every aspect of category- and location-based Directory Assistance queries through a toll free number. Scott Kliger, president of Jingle, has made it known that he intends to exact "a fair price" from other firms who are offering toll-free, local DA.

Local.com, while not a direct competitor to Jingle, upped the ante by raising the profile of two patents it has been granted in the area of local, category search. Specifically patent 7,231,405 for the "Method and apparatus of indexing web pages of a web site for geographical searching based on user location" is comprised of 23 separate claims that pretty much encompass a person's ability type in something like "beauticians, Newark, NJ" and receive results from a search engine.

The above patent piggy-backs on Local.com's other big piece of the IP pie, patent 7,200,413 addressing "Methods and system for enhanced directory assistance using wireless messaging protocols." The claims contained in this patent appear to be in direct conflict with Jingle's and include receipt of a directory assistance query in the form of a "key word" (sounds like category search to me). In addition, the patent document describes the methods to be used for cutting a billing record to support pay-per-call advertising in response to a keyword search from a wireless phone.

So there you have it. Two firms whose core businesses are related but quite different are on a collision course in patent court. In reality, success of both firms is predicated on how well they work with other members of the local mobile search value chain -- especially advertisers, aggregators and technology providers. "Litigious" is not synonymous with "easy-to-work with." When contenders in a nascent industry start hunkering down around intellectual property rights, it is seldom a good thing. Small companies don't have working capital or financial runway to support product development, market development, partnership building AND legal fees associated with patent enforcement efforts.

Kijiji: eBay Launches its Own Alternative to Craigslist

eBay is apparently not content with owning a quarter of Craigslist Inc., the wildly successful "free" Web-based classifieds provider. Today it opened a United States flavor of Kijiji, a sparse but efficient set of local marketplaces up and running in 220 cities and all 50 states. Reports say that eBay remains happy with CraigsList, but believes the local online marketplace will benefit from competition.

If the mobile sites of the two service providers are any indicator, let's hope competition breeds innovation. Very little differentiates mobile.craigslist.com from mobile.kijiji.com. Both just seem to be WAP-based renderings of the ordinary Web site. There aren't any neat bells or whistles to readily input location or market served. No maps. No driving directions or anything particularly mobile. Let's hope that both sites are just placeholders for future wonderfulness.

The eBay mothership has a few features and services that target mobile users. It has long had the ability to use outbound alerts to inform members when a bid has expired or been surpassed. It has made it possible for mobile subscribers to enter bids and receive results as SMS text messages. In other words, it has tackled the low-hanging fruit to keep mobile customers engaged. But it hasn't ostensibly tackled the opportunities at the intersection of "local" and "mobile."

My Five Minutes with the iPhone

After taking my seven year old daughter to Ratatouille this weekend (excellent) I had to stop by the Apple store and get my hands on an iPhone. I waited with the throng to actually hold and manipulate one. I eventually got to hold and use one for about five minutes. Although that is hardly enough time to evaluate the device, I did have some preliminary reactions:

  • It's a beautiful piece of hardware and much more elegant and captivating than any other cellphone on the market
  • The screen resolution is amazing
  • Internet browsing is not entirely intuitive (how do you bring up the keyboard to enter a URL?). But once I got it it was a much better experience than any other phone I've used to date. It was on a wifi network and so much faster than on AT&T's EDGE network
  • The phone is packed with features and is generally more fun and intuitive to use, accordingly, than conventional mobile phones
  • I didn't test out the iPod aspect of the phone
  • The keyboard does take some practice. Mossberg characterized it as a "non issue." However, I would say that it does have a learning curve
  • The interest level among people in the store was very high

This is a game changing device, if only because other handset makers are reacting and already reworking their designs create greater usability. The way to solve the iPhone's keyboard challenge is to embed voice in the next generation device. It currently doesn't offer speech processing or voice commands.

One irony here is that if every mobile device allowed for true Internet browsing, like the iPhone, many of the complications of mobile advertising would go away because it would simply be an extension of online advertising. Ads on the Internet would render in mobile. That wouldn't stop the development of a mobile advertising industry or infrastructure of course. But it would solve many of the challenges of mobile marketing today.

At the Apple store I visited (on Sunday) they told me they had sold out of the iPhone. Piper Jaffray estimated (perhaps through some napkin math) that the company had sold 500,000 units (or more). I asked the Apple store staff how many they had in stock originally and nobody could tell me. They could only nod at the concept that they had sold "thousands" at that particular store.

Clearly the phone is already a hit. Sure there are complaints and glitches. But with the exception of the Crackberry, the Razr and, for some, the Treo, all other cellphones now look like gray, utilitarian contraptions without much style or even utility.

The iPhone Wait Is Over -- or Just Beginning?

The iPhone goes on sale today at 6 p.m. local time at Apple and AT&T stores. Just as the iPod didn't invest the MP3 player, but significantly improved the overall user experience, the iPhone looks poised to do the same thing in mobile. Here are reviews and coverage from the past 24 or so hours.

The Reviews:

All the reviews essentially say that the iPhone delivers despite unprecedented hype.

Here's Mossberg:

We have been testing the iPhone for two weeks, in multiple usage scenarios, in cities across the country. Our verdict is that, despite some flaws and feature omissions, the iPhone is, on balance, a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer. Its software, especially, sets a new bar for the smart-phone industry, and its clever finger-touch interface, which dispenses with a stylus and most buttons, works well, though it sometimes adds steps to common functions.

The iPhone's most controversial feature, the omission of a physical keyboard in favor of a virtual keyboard on the screen, turned out in our tests to be a nonissue, despite our deep initial skepticism. After five days of use, Walt -- who did most of the testing for this review -- was able to type on it as quickly and accurately as he could on the Palm Treo he has used for years. This was partly because of smart software that corrects typing errors on the fly.

Here's Pogue:

As it turns out, much of the hype and some of the criticisms are justified. The iPhone is revolutionary; it's flawed. It's substance; it's style. It does things no phone has ever done before; it lacks features found even on the most basic phones. . . . But even in version 1.0, the iPhone is still the most sophisticated, outlook-changing piece of electronics to come along in years. It does so many things so well, and so pleasurably, that you tend to forgive its foibles.

The main flaw say both is the AT&T infrastructure and slow speeds of its EDGE network (although AT&T has apparently boosted speeds within the past 24 hours). Later iPhones will work on the AT&T 3G network and be faster. The iPhone's WiFi capabilities are apparently the saving grace for mobile Internet browsing.

All along the frenzy surrounding the iPhone has been partly about fashion but mostly about function: the desire for a better, more usable mobile device. This appears to be it.

Apple is giving away free iPhones to employees and has set a limit of two iPhones per buyer to prevent scalping. It's a pretty safe bet that all the available store inventories will sell out within 24 hours -- or maybe tonight.

Mobile News: CallGenie, Ingenio, M:Metrics

CallGenie formally announced a long-term relationship with Verizon to support enhanced directory assistance. CallGenie is behind Yellow Pages Group's Hello Yellow mobile service and 1-800-Free411's recently introduced category search. Ad supported DA is heating up and I would expect to see such an offering from Verizon in the near future.

Ingenio put out a couple of press releases with findings from a substantial mobile user survey conducted by Harris Interactive. I've written up some of the findings here. But will post more on LocalMobileSearch.net later.

Finally, M:Metrics released data on the top mobile Web companies among smartphone users:

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YellowPages.com Beta Site Much Better

SuperPages recently relaunched its site with a new design and usability improvements, and now AT&T's YellowPages.com, which was recently named the fastest growing Internet yellow pages site by comScore, is about to roll out a new site with a dramatically improved design and user experience.

Almost everything about the new site, which has some glitches still, is a substantial improvement. Compare, for example, "Japanese restaurants, San Francisco" on the current site vs. the beta site. The new site also features improved refinements and navigation, including by zip and neighborhood.

Years ago I said that the rise of Google was the best thing that could have happened to IYP sites and this YellowPages.com redesign is proof. Google, not the best local search site on the market, has forced everyone to get better and to focus on quality and usability to compete.

YellowPages.com, which used to be something of an "also ran" in terms of user experience now has a site that I can honestly say I would use more often. That's what I told them on the phone yesterday.

AT&T's directory/yellow pages division increasingly sees itself as a brand with a multi-platform mission, including print, Internet and mobile. Regarding the latter it now is offering text-based mobile search and WAP search. There are also plans for yellow pages on IPTV and potentially tighter integration with 1-800-YellowPages, AT&T's ad-supported free directory assistance offering.

Given its reach, brand equity and quickly improving user experience, YellowPages.com is emerging as a formidable competitor in local search.

Nielsen Buys Mobile Metrics Firm Telephia

Recognizing the increasing importance of mobile and the absence of a credible mobile metrics capability, Nielsen has announced the acquisition of San Francisco-based Telephia, which measures consumer behavior associated with mobile phone and mobile device usage.

Neilsen will now be better able to go head to head with rivals comScore and M:Metrics in mobile.

PhoneSpots Adds Orange U.K. to Client Roster

In April of this year, Oakland, CA-based PhoneSpots punctuated a name change (from PocketThis) by announcing a major, North American customer: YellowPages.com. YP.com, an affiliate of AT&T, commissioned the newly named company to provide delivery of sponsored search results as part of YP411 (97411), its text-based, sponsored-DA service. At the time, the company noted that two European DA providers were already employing its advertising exchange, while two more were in advanced pilots.

Last week, with the addition of Orange (UK) to its roster of clients, PhoneSpots can claim that Ahhaaa (Sweden), Orange (Switzerland), Telegate (France) are all employing its proprietary technology to deliver enhanced listing information and targeted advertising to the "118 XXX" services. France's Page Jaune is also in trial for a "118" service.

PhoneSpots' special sauce arises from its long-time experience with Orange, where it learned to focus on the needs of Yellow Pages publishers to deliver targeted, relevant promotional information in the format most appropriate to a mobile callers location, device configuration and immediate needs. It developed a workflow for mobile advertising delivery that, as the name change implies, put less emphasis on miniaturization (the "pocket") and more on the context, format and suitability of message delivery.

The focus on message delivery workflow translates into a better caller experience. The real value in the mobile DA ecosystem lies in giving businesses the opportunity to place promotional messages on mobile devices to deliver a better user experience. This includes managing the challenges of delivering mobile ads on differing display formats, the various user preferences and formatting ads within relevant context.

PhoneSpot's mobile advertising server includes context engine software which looks at each DA query and routes the most relevant advertisement via the most appropriate delivery method (e.g. text, WAP, voice or combinations of multiple media, etc.). By managing the inventory in this manner, publishers are more certain their promotional messages will be delivered as intended.

Experience with Orange U.K., Ahhaaa and YellowPages.com has made PhoneSpots acutely aware that the right business model for mobile-based DA advertising, via subscription or CPM model, is far from being determined. Still, the company's multimodal ad server capabilities is flexible enough to handle varying delivery modes as well as revenue models.

LMS in the News: Santa Rosa Press Democrat - June 24, 2007

Excerpt:
For people who don't want to buy an expensive handheld device such as an iPhone, the emerging sophistication of 411 services will provide a good substitute, said Dan Miller, founder of San Francisco-based Opus Research, which tracks the industry.

"This is local search for the rest of us," Miller said. "And you don't need a data plan for it."

The directory assistance industry generated $4 billion in 2006, almost exclusively from fee-based services such as AT&T's, Miller said. But in 2010, when the industry will generate nearly $8 billion, the majority of the revenue will be supported by advertising, Miller projects.

From the article, "Pimp your phone", by Nathan Halverson, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, June 24, 2007

Santa Rosa Press Democrat - June 24, 2007

Excerpt:

For people who don't want to buy an expensive handheld device such as an iPhone, the emerging sophistication of 411 services will provide a good substitute, said Dan Miller, founder of San Francisco-based Opus Research, which tracks the industry.

"This is local search for the rest of us," Miller said. "And you don't need a data plan for it."

The directory assistance industry generated $4 billion in 2006, almost exclusively from fee-based services such as AT&T's, Miller said. But in 2010, when the industry will generate nearly $8 billion, the majority of the revenue will be supported by advertising, Miller projects.

From the article, "Pimp your phone", by Nathan Halverson, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, June 24, 2007

Verizon Brings Free DA in Boston and Denver

Verizon has expanded the areas in which it offers free Directory Assistance services to include the Boston and Denver metropolitan areas. Verizon, in conjunction with Call Genie and other technology providers, had been conducting a market trial of free DA with category search in the Pittsburgh, PA area since July 2006. Expansion into Denver and Boston, where 1-800-THE INFO is used to access the service, show that the trials have met with a certain amount of success.

For Yellow Pages content, Verizon is turning to Idearc Media Corp., where the assets of erstwhile Verizon Information Services (aka Superpages.com) reside. Thus, Verizon positions the service as an opportunity for businesses who are already using Superpages.com as an advertising medium to extend their real-time reach to the phone channel. Features include query responses in both speech and text formats and free call completion to local businesses.

Other, voice portal-like services -- including movie listings, sports, weather, traffic and the like -- are promised for a future date. So it is that the leading incumbent provider of wireless and wireline telephone service (and attendant Directory Assistance) is cautiously pacing its efforts to cannibalize its caller-paid cash-cow with a free alternative.

Nuance Acquires Tegic: Texting is Not a Touchy Subject

Nuance Communications has not officially completed its acquisition of embedded speech processing specialist VoiceSignal yet it is diversifying into embedded text processing with the purchase of Tegic, the originator of predictive text entry. So it goes in the decidedly multimodal world of local mobile search. Not only is it increasingly clear why the company formerly known as SpeechWorks opted to take the Nuance name when the two companies merged in April 2003; it's also clear that the company recognizes that successful services must support multiple modalities in order to satisfy user requirements in context and in real time.

Having sponsored "Mobile Text Messaging's Amazing Race" back in October 2006, Nuance is well-aware of the fact that dictating text messages is much faster than alternative text entry methods. Yet the context also established that Tegic's T9 is far superior to either triple tapping or other keypad based text entry. Through multiple acquisitions, Nuance well knows that the value of an acquisition target far exceeds core technology. Mobile Voice Command (now Nuance Voice Command) brought an existing contract with Sprint PCS and access to its customer base. With the acquisition of VoiceSignal, Nuance benefits from years of work to embed technology on a multiplicity of mobile handsets. Both companies had also invested millions in development and refinements of mobile applications.

Nuance management is well aware that the human voice is the longest-standing and most natural modality for communicating over the phone. It also knows that, in spite of voice's primacy, text messaging has proven great staying power and generates huge volumes of transactions around the world. Being first-in with an embedded utility for predictive texting -- not to mention its linkage with with AOL and Time Warner -- has brought Tegic an impressive list of partnerships among device makers and carriers. It brags over 70 licensees around the world and a footprint that transcends divisions among wireless providers, device makers, IP-telephony specialists and enterprise infrastructure providers.

The acquisition of T9 adds predicting texting to Nuance's range of modalities for user input. It signicantly adds to Nuance's sphere of influence in mobile commerce both globally and contextually.