Wall Street Journal - May 31, 2007

Excerpt:

"The billions of calls made every year to directory-assistance services are a healthy precedent for voice-based search services," says Dan Miller, a senior analyst at Opus Research, a San Francisco-based consultancy that tracks the interactive-services sector.

Free mobile search, however, is more bad news for the paid directory-service business. Opus Research predicts this business will drop from $3.5 billion in annual revenue in 2006 to $1.8 billion by 2010, mostly because searching for most phone numbers is free on the Internet. People also will likely begin calling free directory services from their landline as well as their cellphones. The advertiser-supported free model is expected to increase to a $3 billion business in 2010 from $203 million in 2006, according to Opus.

Technology companies are moving toward ad-supported business models partly because voice recognition has reduced the cost of providing directory services. It costs 25 cents to 27 cents for a live operator to answer a call, but only 8 cents to 10 cents when the answering process is automated, according to Opus Research's Mr. Miller.

From the article, "Mobile Search Is Dialing Up Voice Recognition", by Samar Srivastava, Wall Street Journal, May 31, 2007 [subscription required]