Google’s voice driven directory assistance has removed the 877-GOOG-411 number and now automatically forwards any calls to that number to: 877-520-FIND.
It is interesting that Google has not publicly acknowledged that the experiment is theirs and that the phone number has been changed to further distance themselves. Perhaps they didn’t want to seem like they weren’t focusing around the time of their quarterly analyst meetings. Although this clearly is a focused extension of their search capability. Pushing search out to the cell networks is clearly a way to dramatically increase their reach.
It is not difficult to see how this could be monetized and perhaps it already is being monetized.
1-Make this a generic service that the cell companies could use (remove Goog(le) from the number)
2-Share local ad revenue with the cell companies.
Currently there is not a lot of PPC advertising in the Google Maps section although the number is growing. But Google has partnered with Verizon to sell PPC, Verizon is spinning off their on-line SuperPages and it appears that local listings with local ads recieve a higher listing in the directory. So not only is Google beginning the monetiztion of directory assistance they are certainly planning more.