Monday, May 23, 2005

4INFO Interview

I use this service so much I figured I would give them a shout out.

4INFO is a text message info retrieval tool. I find their responses are quicker and much more extensive than Google's SMS.

Just send a text to "44636" or just type in 4INFO, and your phone might recognize it.

What info/services does 4INFO allow via SMS requests?

4INFO (44636) currently offers mobile SMS search services across local business 411, weather forecasts, sports scores, movie times, stock quotes, flight listings, price lookups and horoscopes.

We also have some fun searches like drink recipes – try searching for “shot” or “vodka tonic.”

How do you generate revenues from this “free” service?

4INFO (44636) generates revenue from transaction partnerships and sponsors. When you search for ‘mlb’, at the bottom of the scoreboard result screen is a special offer to buy discounted baseball tickets from There’s a lot of interest from advertisers that are looking to reach our demographic, so there will be a lot more fairly soon.

Are there any new services you plan to unveil?

A couple of services in the near future include driving directions and fantasy sports. There are a ton more after that.

What separates 4INFO from Google’s 46645?

4INFO (44636) is focused on providing info for the “on the go” lifestyle. Our mission is to provide relevant, accurate, fast search results to the mobile user. General Internet search is not of interest.

We realize that texting long queries is suboptimal. We designed our patent-pending search algorithms to accurately provide results even with fairly short terms like city abbreviations (e.g. mtn view ca or 94035 instead of Mountain View, CA) or weather (‘w la’ instead of ‘weather los angeles’).

Here are some interesting things 4INFO (44636) does:

4Replies: frequently after the user sees a short list of restaurants, they will want more, so if they reply with ‘1’, we’ll send more. This is also useful if they want to buy game tickets or learn more about their daily horoscope.

4Menus: when we get something fairly ambiguous like ‘nyc,’ we try not to guess the users intention. Our system is smart enough to know when it doesn’t know. We will return a menu like “Reply w/num of choice: 1.Movies 2.Sports 3. Weather 4. Stock Quotes”

Some interesting capabilities that others don’t have:

Sports: we know that a lot of our users are into getting the latest sport scores even when they are supposed to be paying attention at a meeting or class. A search of ‘bulls’ will return Chicago Bulls scores or ‘mlb’ will give the latest Major League Scoreboard.

Flight Lookups/Updates: what can be more “on the go” than trying to find out if your flight is leaving on time while sitting in a cab. With 4INFO (44636) our users can text their airline and flight number or something like ‘delta atl jfk’.

What do you do with the data that gets created (mobile campaigns?)

We use it to make our service more accurate and useful. After we implemented our service, we learned that our users got tired of repeating the same searches over and over. So the 4INFO (44636) engineers fixed it. For example, if our system sees that a user frequently searching for ‘weather nyc’, if they enter ‘w’ our system will return the 5 day forecast in New York city.

4INFO (44636) will not engage in spamming our user with a flood of promotional text messages. We will not sell personal information to anyone. We are more interested in loyal users that are as passionate as we are.

Describe 4INFO in one sentence.

4INFO Inc. (, a leading mobile search service, allows users to quickly, easily and affordably find relevant information on their mobile devices. 4INFO provides local directory and real-time information services, including sports scores, weather, flight information, movie times stock quotes, horoscopes and price lookups. 4INFO’s investment partners include U.S. Venture Partners and Draper Fisher Jurvetson. 4INFO is headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif.

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