If talk is cheap, don't tell Microsoft
Tellme's voice platform analyzes phone calls to get news, movie showtimes and weather reports. It also provides corporate services, including directory assistance, flight status, billing, and customer service, for clients such as Merrill Lynch
Tellme's key advantage lies in its assembly of the largest speech index for local businesses. A speech index compiles phonetic representations of text -- all the different sounds people might use to say the same words and phrases. "There may be 10,000 different representations for the same request, considering where the user is from, gender, age and so on," said Sharma Dipanshu, the founder of mobile search firm V-Enable, in a Fool interview yesterday.
Buying Tellme lets Microsoft provide voice-enabled search for mobile phones. Want to find the nearest Starbucks while you're out and about? Instead of punching a crazy combination of keys on your mobile phone, Tellme's software lets you say "Find Starbucks" and get a list of nearby locations, each linked to a phone number and map.
Mobile search is still in its early stages, but Google and Yahoo!
Microsoft was slow to capitalize on web search, but it's not repeating that mistake in the mobile arena. Plenty could still go wrong with its plans for Tellme, but at least Mr. Softy's not playing catch-up here.
Further phonetic Foolishness:
Fool contributor Tom Taulli, author of The Complete M&A Handbook, does not own shares mentioned in this article. He is currently ranked 3,625 out of 24,208 in CAPS. Starbucks, Yahoo!, and UnitedHealth are Stock Advisor picks, while AT&T was a former selection. The Fool has a disclosure policy.