When Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) launched its free 411 service in 2007, its purpose was never a secret: The company aimed to collect voice samples to build Google's homegrown voice recognition technology.

Well, it looks like Google got enough samples. 1-800-GOOG-411 is shutting down in a couple of weeks. I don't think you'll miss it, and neither will Google.

Big G has put those millions of voice searches to good use on the Android platform. Voice-based phone number searches with automatic connection have become an integral part of the Android experience, and that technology is constructed from statistical analysis of the 411 data. It's such a good idea that Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) had to copy the "free 411" idea for Bing. Perhaps we'll see the fruits of that less-heralded effort in the upcoming Windows Phone 7 launch.

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) decided to forgo the data-collection route; it simply bought voice search specialist Siri this spring. I don't know whether that acquisition has been worked into iPhone's voice commands yet, but the standard voice dialer seems to handle your contact list and spoken numbers, instead of running a yellow-pages search. In the meantime, Google's technology is available in the form of an app.

So from Google's perspective, the 411 project accomplished its mission, and it's no longer needed. The Bing service wants to send you advertising back via SMS unless you opt out, while Google never monetized 411 at all. A lot of the time, Google's business moves and service announcements are not meant to generate revenue on their own, but to help the company make money in other ways. Building a better smartphone experience would certainly qualify in this case.

Google shareholders might feel slighted by this lack of patently obvious cash-generation effort, but if so, they're owning the wrong stock. If clearly defined revenue streams and profitable projects are all you care about, you'll be happier owning an Income Investor pick like Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) or Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE: EPD), where you'll find exactly that kind of profit focus translated into rock-steady dividend payouts.

Google's strategy of innovation for innovation's sake is building a long-term leviathan using a very different method. That's how today's Rule Breaker hopes to become tomorrow's trusty blue-chip titan, generating new business in a series of leaps, bounds, and occasional lulls. Learn more about nontraditional growth strategies in this free report.

Google and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Enterprise Products Partners LP and Procter & Gamble are Motley Fool Income Investor recommendations. The Fool owns shares of and has written covered calls on Procter & Gamble. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.