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The Web on Your Phone...TellMe

Techstination feature for Monday, November 20, 2000

Bringing the Web to your telephone. I'm Fred Fishkin with Bloomberg Bootcamp. We're not talking about Web enabled wireless phones. That technology has a lot of promise... .but trying to get the information you need... by typing on a cell phone keypad can be frustrating. If what you need are stock quotes, movie times, restaurant information and such... .the best service I've found is called TellMe... where co-founder Angus Davis says the key is to make navigation easy... .

"Well basically we use simple voice commands which means when you call up 800-555-tell and you call up our service, you're actually navigating using speech commands. You use your own voice to say different key words. And so it's very natural and easy, it's not like these old phone systems that use touch tones."

For example, you can call in to search for a place to eat...

"Say a city and state or enter a zip code." New York, New York. "Okay. New York, New York. Now looking for restaurants in and around that area. Do you know the name of the restaurant you want?" No. "What type of food do you want to eat?" Italian. "There are over 700 Italian restaurants in New York. What part of New York do you want?" Midtown. "Here are ten Italian restaurants in and around midtown."

You can even get driving directions to anywhere in the country. It doesn't feel like you're browsing the Web... but you are. The service is free at 800-555-tell. There are short commercials to bring in revenue... and TellMe sells its technology to corporations as well.