Sahelia Datta has uncovered what appears to be a voice driven directory assistance service for Google Maps. She details both its strengths and its foibles.
The number for this free service:
1 877 466 4411 (1 877 GOOG 411)
Greg Sterling has an interesting analysis in his posting on Brands, User Experience and Mobile. He clearly positions the service in the big picture of directory assistance and local search.
For me the concerns are more pragmatic. Is it really Google results? (yes, they are) Is it free? (yes it is) And is it enough better than current directory assistance that consumers would use it? (Let me know what you think but it sure has promise).
For any of you that thought that optimizing for Google Maps was unimportant, this will certainly shake your world view. It clearly points out why it is important to have a solid listing with Google Maps, be listed in the top three in as many categories as possible and why if at all possible that number 1 ranking is critical on your keywords.
When I called and checked out my listing it returned results exactly has I had entered them in the Google Local Business center and were currently listed in Google.
The service offers a voice driven interface that will either dial the listing or text message it back to you for inclusion in your phone book. The speech recognition seems to work even with my voice whistling through my mustache. It is impressive and points out the way that the web and the phone will interact.