Tellme Expands Blackberry Portal

Microsoft subsidiary Tellme Networks announced today the initial availability of a free local on-the-go information application to its voice portal on BlackBerry phones. Users hold a press-to-talk button, say a keyword, and get the results on the phone’s screen. Future versions will roll out on Helio Mysto phones and some basic business search capabilities are currently available on selected feature phones.

Known initially for its business search platform on 411 and for 1-800-555-Tell, an information search line, Tellme has been examining the mobile space for the past three years as an increasing number of calls originated from mobile phones. 

Once Tellme’s application boots up, it gets the user’s GPS location. Users depress the push-to-talk button and utter either a business name or a business category. Depending on the density of a location, the application searches up to a 30-mile radius for listings fitting the spoken criteria.

Additionally, the application provides weather and traffic conditions as well as driving directions. Tellme leverages partnerships with enterprises like Fandango or Dominoes to enable richer functionality capabilities, like movie look-ups. Still, Tellme is currently looking at ways to expand functionality.  The current incarnation of the application, for instance, lacks text-to-speech capabilities.   

"We first focused on the voice and visual," says David Mitby, a senior product manager at Tellme. "But we’d really like to take that audio asset. Tellme has been putting a tremendous amount of effort in these audio apps and audio read-back. We really believe it’ll be great in this environment. All the investments we made for the traditional phone will be very valuable here, especially when we think of a car situation." 
While Tellme launched some mobile applications a year ago, the company is increasingly focused on the consumer mobile experience, according to Mitby.  "You’ll be seeing a lot more from Tellme in that space," he says. "As part of this launch, you’ll be seeing some marketing activities directed to consumers as well as reaching out more and more to mobile operators to get distribution of that experience."

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