Google Expected to Target Phone Search

Search engine giants are poised to introduce searchable voice services, industry analysts say.

Whats the next big killer app from search companies? Quickly and easily searching telephone calls for a particular word or phrase—in essence, to Google your calls—is a likely candidate. And it isnt as far off as it might seem.

In the past two years, a number of customer service calling center operators for hire, some with thousands of employees working at the phones, have invested in the technology to identify inept operators and other measures of quality control.

While thats far from a mainstream scenario, these pioneering commercial applications are nonetheless an important first step toward a future in which phone calls will be among the Web pages available by visiting Google, Yahoo and other search engines.

Indeed, Ferris Research analyst Richi Jennings said, leading search engine giants like Google, Yahoo and Microsofts MSN could introduce rudimentary searchable voice services right now.

"The big three of search could all do a good enough job of it to be of some value," Jennings said. "I do see adding into the search universe the ability to search what you said in phone calls."

While acknowledging such a feature is conceivable, and in some cases being worked on, executives from major search companies cautioned during recent interviews that it will be a long, slow slog to get there, and each will have to battle any number of factors beyond each companies control.

"We are definitely evaluating whether to make available a feature like searching voice calls and voice mail and other advanced voice features," said Yahoo spokesperson Terrell Karlsten.

Analysts envision searchable voice applications that would help companies more easily comply with records-intensive Sarbanes-Oxley corporate governance mandates.

More mainstream applications would turn home phone call history into a searchable database to find telephone numbers, names, addresses or even documenting the type of calls someone makes.

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