Dial Plus is a new service in public alpha looking to provide cellphone users with instant access to data relevant to the phone numbers they call.
Upon dialing or receiving calls from businesses, users are presented with directions, business hours, and/or menus. During personal calls, the service fetches contact profiles from social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn.
At first glance, the concept seems a little useless. I’ve never really had an urge to read through a friend’s Facebook profile while I was chatting on the phone, and unless you have a headset, it’s going to be tough to browse anything while chatting. The company’s demo video isn’t too convincing, either (it’s also painfully similar to the ubiquitous iPhone ads).
But after seeing Dial Plus in person, I think that the platform has some potential – it felt nice having the phone look things up for me automatically in the background, and made me question why smartphones don’t do this already. If Dial Plus can get enough developer support for the planned widget platform, the service has a chance to do well for itself.
The company has high hopes but a long way to go. Currently available are alpha versions of the software running on Windows Mobile phones, with support for platforms including the iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry on the way. Users must download a thin client, but all information is provided through the phone’s native browser.
Dial Plus is going to need to provide a complete product very quickly if they want to succeed. A number of other companies including Korean startup Callgate are already well-established and offer some of the same features. And with the release of the iPhone SDK and Android, we’re going to see this space fill up pretty quickly.