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Google Tries Its Hand at Mobile Search

Web search leader Google on Friday made a move to capture market position in the estimated $7 billion-a-year mobile search arena with the launch of Google Voice Local Search, an experimental free directory assistance service.

"This experiment enables users to search and connect with local businesses anywhere in the U.S. over the phone," says Megan Quinn, a Google spokesperson.

The automated, voice-enabled service, available by dialing 1-800-GOOG-411, is currently only available in the United States and only features U.S.-based businesses. It is also only available in English. Information provided through the service is the same as what's available through the online Google Maps service.

Google Voice Local Search uses speech recognition to allow users to search for a local business by name or category, based on their city and state or zip code; get connected to the business, free of charge; and
 get the listing as a text message if they are using a mobile phone, just by saying "text message." Saying "details" will yield additional information about the listing provided.

Google does not charge users anything for this service, but telephone companies may apply regular charges for making a phone call or receiving a text message, Quinn says.

On its Web site, Google maintains that its Voice Local Search "is still in its experimental stage. It may not be available at all times and may not work for all users. We're fine-tuning the service to get better at recognizing your requests."

The launch by Google comes on the heels of a March 14 announcement by Microsoft that it will acquire voice search firm Tellme Networks. It is not Google's first foray into this area, as the company has been experimenting with this type of service since 2002.

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