RealTime IT News

Texting Your Google Search

Mobile SMS users in the United States received a new mobile search tool today courtesy of none other than Google . The new SMS service, now in beta at Google Labs, promises to help mobile users execute search queries via SMS .

Google SMS in its present form allows mobile users to search for local business listings, product prices or even dictionary definitions. The mobile user, whether on a cell phone or other SMS-enabled device like a Blackberry, can access the service by dialing "GOOGL" (46645) to text the query.

The query is made up of the product or service name (Google gives the example of a pizzeria) together with a Zip code or city. The search results are determined by the user's location and include name, address and phone number. A maximum of three results are provided for each query.

According to Georges Harik, director of Googlettes, the new service is essentially an SMS gateway into Google's other services, in particular Local search and Froogle.

"Since we've had these two things a lot of us have found ourselves in stores wanting to look up prices of things and looking for places near us," Harik told internetnews.com. "We think it's a compelling time to deliver the service."

Google SMS does not currently contain any of Google's Adwords advertisements, though Harik did not discount the possibility of them at some point being integrated into the service.

"To the extent that ads can provide you with useful information, we would be likely to do that," Harik said.

Harik also noted that Google would not currently derive any revenue from the mobile carriers that offer the Google SMS services. According to Harik, "It's not our focus and it's not actually happening."

The Google SMS service is presently being offered at no charge to users, though Google notes that,"your wireless provider's standard rates for sending and receiving text messages still apply."

Harik explained that he wouldn't characterize the new initiative as being part of a broader wireless initiative.

"It's just that the more we see cell phones used the more we see an opportunity where we'll be more likely to do things in that area," he said. "Obviously the service right now is really an extension of the services that we have. We have hundreds of millions of people with cell phones all over the world, and I think that as people access information more over their cell phones, Google will try and deliver its information over the cell phone."

The service is currently available only on a number of U.S. wireless carriers, including Sprint, Verizon, AT&T Wireless, T-Mobile, Nextel and Cingular.