ChaCha Mobile Search: Can’t Quite Dance

chacha.jpgIn the days leading up to next week’s CTIA, us mobile technology journalists have to dedicate a few hours a day to going through hundreds of e-mails from press representatives on the latest mobile applications and hardware. So when I come across a service I can actually try on my own cell phone, like ChaCha, I get pretty excited. ChaCha — the web based human powered search engine — launched a mobile version of its service a few months ago and will be making even more announcements in the next few weeks. Users can currently text a search query to 242242 (CHACHA) and receive text results on their phone. Just like the Web based ChaCha, the answers are sent by a human being search guide. To test out the system I asked ChaCha, “why I would use ChaCha instead of Google’s SMS service?” Seems ChaCha’s press team has prepped the service for this question. One minute later my phone received the following answer “ChaCha is a human powered search, capable of answering almost any question, Google is based on keyword search.” That it is ChaCha. However, in answers to other questions, ChaCha didn’t fair as well. It took ChaCha 4 minutes to return my query for a Dunkin Donuts close to 1410 Broadway in New York City and when it did the listing was nowhere near NYC – it was in Bayonne, NJ. It took Google a minute and thirty seconds to return a listing blocks away from me; however, I needed to know the zip code for the Google SMS search. I thought to give ChaCha a second chance. A long time UCLA fan, I wanted to know what the score of the last game was. I asked ChaCha and at the same time I asked Google through a simple “Score of UCLA game” SMS. Google returned the great news in less than 40 seconds: UCLA beat Texas A&M on March 22. ChaCha, I am guessing is an A&M fan because they haven’t gotten back to me and it has been at least 10 minutes now.

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