Goog411Google just launched a 411 service last night that I believe is one of Google’s best services ever! For me, it ranks right up there with Google Search and Gmail simply because it costs me $1.25 to call 411 for information from my cellphone provider. Google’s service, however, costs absolutely nothing and is even better than the typical 411 service.

So why do I like it so much? If you are just bumming around and decide that you have a taste for pizza, just call 1–800–GOOG-411 and tell them the city/state that you are currently in. Then say “pizza” and they will start listing pizza places near where you are at. You don’t have to know the exact place that you want to go, which is extremely helpful when you’re in an unknown area.

You can also tell Google a specific place and they will connect you to the business at no charge. As of right now this only works in the United States for business listings, but hopefully they will be expanding that further when they see how successful it is.

So where is the money in it for Google? Since this is still an experimental service I don’t think they are focusing on making money from it. I’m sure that will come later, and I think I might have figured out how they could monetize the service. They may allow local businesses to purchase sponsored spots based upon listings, so that when someone is searching for pizza places in a specific area the sponsored listing will be first. Right now with Google’s current advertising methods the advertisers pay each time someone clicks on an add, so with the phone maybe the advertisers would only get charged each time Google automatically connects someone over the phone. Then instead of calling it “Pay Per Click” it could be called “Pay Per Connect”…again, that’s just my speculation but I’m sure they will come up with some way to make money off of this.

Overall, I played with the service for numerous places and it recognized the names of them all expect for one Mexican restaurant that it just couldn’t get. However, I was still able to quickly get the information for that restaurant by doing “a search” for “Mexican restaurant” instead of the specific name.

For those of you who don’t feel like calling 1–800–GOOG-411 and testing the service, Download Squad has recorded one of the conversations for you to listen to. You’ll notice that the voice is very natural and realistic except when it pronounces some of the less common words such as street names:

powered by ODEO

Here are the tips that Google provides for using the service:

When you are asked for city and state, you can:

  • say the city and state like “beverly hills california”.
  • say the zip, e.g. “nine-oh-two-one-oh”.
  • type the zip code using the key pad, e.g. “9-0-2-1-0″.

When you are asked for a business name or category, you can:

  • say a business name, like “Giovanni’s pizzeria”.
  • say a category name, like “hardware stores”.
  • say “go back” to change city and state.

When browsing through results, you can:

  • say the listing number (e.g. “number two”) or press the corresponding key (e.g. “2”) to choose a listing or navigate between results.
  • say “text message” or press “9” to receive a text message, when you are calling from a mobile phone.
  • say “details” to get more information about the current listing.
  • say “start over” or press “*” to start from the main menu.
  • say “go back” to change business or category.

Thanks for the tip Curtiss!