Sources familiar with the plans have told CNET News.com that Microsoft is apparently close to buying Tellme Networks. Neither company is talking about any such deal on the record.
Tellme's technology lets businesses transmit automated data and directory assistance information via the phone. Products being tested now let consumers speak or text requests for information and get data back on their phones.
Bloggers weren't surprised that Microsoft is interested--rumors have been spreading for quite some time--pointing out that as cell phones get smarter and smarter, Tellme's technology could give the software giant an edge against competitors.
Blog community response:
"On mobile phones the search business is still up for grabs. Google doesn't have the kind of control on mobile search as it does on the web. Of course with Windows Mobile growing like crazy - the second-fastest growing mobile phone OS - Tellme's technology could make Windows Mobile phone infinitely more user friendly, especially when compared to the tediousness of its current UI."
"Its clear that Tellme is a strong (and profitable) company in the rapidly growing wireless voice search area, which could provide a great deal of value for Microsoft's mobile local search initiatives...It also has some nice tie-ins to existing MSFT products, and there are possibilities of channeling Tellme's technology toward enterprise applications."
--The Kelsey Group
"The attraction for Microsoft is apparently the promise of using Tellme's voice interface and back-end server technologies to help in MS's plan of converging data and voice, especially on mobiles and other non-PC devices."