Michael Arrington at TechCrunch posts that AT&T acquired InFreeDA, which became the basis of its recently launched 1800-YellowPages free DA service. I was unaware of the acquisition, but it’s clearly not the entire infrastructure behind the new AT&T service.
InFreeDA flamed out because the company’s cost per call was greater than its revenue per call and it didn’t have enough cash to wait out the time period required to acquire enough advertisers to monetize call volumes. InFreeDA was also using live operators rather than automation.
Right before it went belly up, InFreeDA was about to launch category search on top of Google. But we never got the chance to see how that would work. 1800 YellowPages, in its three markets, has category search. And Jingle (1800 Free411) is launching it in Q1.
As I said previously, Jingle has made the world safe for ad-supported directory assistance. And AT&T and Verizon’s entry into the free DA market now means that the subscriber pays model’s days are numbered. (BellSouth is ending free DA calls, signaling that it’s going to milk the cash cow before it dies.)
I’ll have more to say about Jingle a little later. Here’s my most recent post on the company.