Saturday, April 21, 2007

More free stuff from Google

Not only did Google have a stellar quarter but they've recently released a couple of cool new products. (Or, at least they're new to me.)

First off is Google 411. Instead of dialing information and being charged a buck to get directions or a phone number, dial 1-800-GOOG-411 and their automated system will get you the same information for free. You can even be connected directly to the company you're calling or have the information sent to you in a text message.

Next is Google's text messaging service. Essentially, it's Googling from your phone. For example, if you want to know movie times, text the title of the movie and your zip code to 46645 ("Googl"). Google will send you a text message with nearby theaters and show times.

I've been pleasantly surprised at how well it works. We were babysitting for some people at a Jazz game. We were wondering how much time was left so I texted "Utah Jazz score" to 466453. I instantly knew the score, remaining time and the final score of the last two Jazz games.

Of course, it's free too.

You gotta love Google's goal: make available the world's information for free. Of course, if you know what people are searching for you can do a good job of placing targeted ads in front of them and have stock worth over $450 a share.

Anyone who thinks Google is in the search business has their head in the sand. They're in the advertising business. These free services are just two more ways for them to find out what you're looking for and place discreet, relevant ads near your search results. They don't do that now, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it in the future. What restaurant wouldn't want to be at the top of the list when they know there's a customer out actively looking for a place to eat?