701Panduan, Yet Another Directory Search or an e-Marketplace?

701PanduanAt the present time, 701Panduan provides search utility for finding Malaysian businesses, places and directions. 701Panduan Sdn Bhd, a MSC Malaysia status company, is 50/50 joint venture between SPH Interactive International Pte Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings Ltd, and Star Publications (M) Bhd, the two leading newspaper companies in Singapore and Malaysia, respectively. Brand tagged as The Ultimate Source for Local Search with focus on the provision of search services on mobile and web platforms.

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Google Shut Down its Experimental SearchMash

searchmash

SearchMash is the experimental search engine, developed by Google. It was released for public in October last year. The search engine has been my choice of search engine since January 2008, as it offered a much more pleasant user experience, in terms of speed and uncluttered interface (imagine Google minus Google AdWords). And, not to mention its dashboard-style of displaying different categories of search results, namely images, blogs, video, wikipedia.

Unfortunately, Google has consigned SearchMash to “way of the dinosaur”. Since yesterday, the search engine became inaccessible. Maybe Google is planning a rebirth of SearchMash, maybe not. Google launched SearchMash with little fanfare in 2007 and now, the experimental search engine went out with a whimper (no coverage on TechCrunch) (see coverage on TechCrunch).

A look of its traffic pattern for the past three months, SearchMash traffic is noticeably constant, non-growth. The graph below shows the traffic patterns of SearchMash and Microsoft-owned search engine, Powerset.

Traffic Patterns of SearchMash and Powerset
searchmash

A sad day for me. Reluctantly, I’ve to set my default search engine back to Google.

It was nice using you, SearchMash!
searchmash

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You ASK, Yellotext Answers

yellotextASK is a new SMS-based directory search service by Yellotext Sdn Bhd. It enables users to find whereabouts of desired items and also contact details of their favorite shops from its ASK Listing directory, anywhere, anytime.

To use the search service, just type “ASK” followed by a search query e.g. “ASK hair salon curve” or “ASK hair salon” and then send to 36869. The search engine can also ‘understand’ queries in natural language e.g. “ASK looking for a hair salon at gardens.” Response time is typically under a minute (depending on network conditions).

Simple Steps to ASK Yellotext
yellotext how to

Some search results are followed by supplementary mobile vouchers called ASK Poster (adopting Google AdWords concept). Poster is designed for merchants to send promotional vouchers to Yellotext’s search users and each Poster is tagged to a set of search keywords.

Someone who searches for a bookstore, for example, is probably more likely to have an intention to buy books. She will find a discount voucher for books useful and relevant (and timely). With ASK Poster, bookstore operator can effectively respond to purchase intention by enticing customers with promotional offers.

Mobile voucher is free to all ASK users. Instead, Yellotext charges merchants based on the number of times their vouchers are delivered to search users. Additionally, merchants pay for listing on the ASK search directory and search users pay RM0.30 for each set of search results.

Txt Msg Rules, Still

SMS usage is still showing strong growth. A recent market report “2008 Global Mobile – Data and Content Markets” by Research and Markets estimated over 2 trillion text messages will be sent worldwide in 2008 and the number is expected to grow further. “Market Trends: Mobile Messaging, Worldwide, 2006 – 2011” by Gartner also expected text messages to surpass 2 trillion in 2008; Asia-Pacific and Japan are the biggest users of mobile messaging with estimated 1.7 trillion messages to be sent in 2008. Gartner also estimated mobile messaging revenue to reach US$60.2 billion in 2008, a 15.7% increase over 2007.

In Malaysia, 56.9 billion text messages were sent in 2007 alone (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission). That’s about a billion text messages sent each week!

According to Chow Tuck Mun, CEO of Yellotext, ASK service “combines the two widely used applications, search and SMS.” Its ASK Poster is a well thought out approach to SMS marketing. Conventional bulk SMS marketing is spam-oriented whereas Poster is driven by users’ intentions and allows contextualized mobile marketing. Rather than simply throwing spaghetti against the wall and see if it sticks, ASK makes SMS marketing more targeted, intelligent, effective and less intrusive.

ASK search is in early commercialization stage and its directory already has over 3,000 records (and growing) covering eight major shopping malls in the Klang Valley area – Pavilion, Suria KLCC, Berjaya Times Square, Mid Valley, The Gardens, 1Utama, The Curve and Sunway Pyramid. Currently, the ASK service is only available to subscribers of the three main Malaysian mobile carriers – Maxis, DiGi and Celcom.

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