I was surprised this evening to receive an email from the ChaCha communications team about a new feature they’ve just launched. I say surprised because we have not been kind to the service in our three posts on them so far. In the most recent post, I called them “a bad idea, poorly executed.”
The new feature is a mobile interface to the search engine – try it virtually here. Users can text a search query to 242242 and receive text results back on their phone. Like the main ChaCha service, the answers are sent by a live search guide. For now, it’s free.
Example searches given by the company include “I’m at the corner of 42nd & Broadway in New York City. Where can I get a cup of coffee?” or even “Where can I get some great sushi in Palo Alto, CA?” ChaCha also says that shortcuts and misspellings are not a problem, since a real human is reading and responding to the message.
I texted “What is the temperature in New York City?” to the service (I’m flying there tomorrow). Within moments I received a text message back welcoming me to the service:
Welcome to ChaCha’s FREE txt trial! Your phone just got smarter. Ask away. Your first answer will come shortly. Std txt charges apply. Send HELP for help.
Four minutes later I got the following reply:
Current temperature is 17 degrees F, Clear, Wind: W at 10 mph, Humidity: 45%. Thursday 24 degrees F 16 degrees F. http://www.chacha.com/u/a6xii7j9
Useful? Definitely. Scalable? Not a chance. But the upside is that if you are ever lonely and have no one to text with, ChaCha guides are there for you. You’ll never be lonely again.
The company has raised $16 million in funding, including an investment from Jeff Bezos’ Bezos Expeditions. Look for them to hit the deadpool by end of year 2008.
Just kidding, ChaCha. Keep me on the PR distribution list. I promise to be fair and balanced. On a side note, we have a running thread in the forums for people to post their most entertaining ChaCha guide exchanges.