I’m sad to see that goog-411 is shutting down on November 12, 2010. If you haven’t used it, goog-411 is a service you could dial with an 800 number (1-800-GOOG-411) to access a speech recognition system that would help you find businesses in any city and state in the US. I used it frequently on the road, to find places to eat in cities that were coming up on the map. The service was impressively accurate, simple to use, and could be used from *any* phone in the country, generally for free.

Now that I’m an Android user, I confess that Google Maps has just about wiped out the need for GOOG-411. But: I feel sad for all the non-Android folk in the country. What are they going to do now that Google is “putting all of our resources into speech-enabling the next generation of Google products and services across a multitude of languages”? Will their be tools for the non-smart phone generation?

In addition to being sad on its own merits, the shuttering of GOOG-411 is an important reminder that not all useful services can find a way to be paid for. I’m sure that part of the problem for GOOG-411 was that Google could not figure out a way to put ads onto the service without annoying its users. That’s a difficult balance; and one that I’m sad Google could not manage for its excellent goog-411 service.


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