Jingle Networks, the provider of the free 411 service 1-800-FREE411, is now easily accessible to Skype users in the United States. Skype is a leading Internet VoIP company that is looking to spread its wings and 1-800-FREE411 is a free Directory Assistance service in the U.S. – so this looks like a match made in heaven. Skype users could already access 1-800-FREE411 because Skype allows a user to access any phone number (no 911 support though) for free. This agreement simply makes it easier – Skype users can dial easily by adding “Free411USA” to their contact list.
TechCrunch doesn’t see the value in this:
Personally, I find this deal a little dumb. Skype users are generally on an Internet connected device, and a web search is almost always an easier way to find information on a business v. a 411 call.
I agree that on a large form-factor device like a desktop PC or a Laptop this doesn’t make sense, but Skype is not just on a Computer. Nowadays, skype is available on cordless handsets, WiFi handsets, on PDAs (mainly with WiFi access), and even trying hard to get on Cell phones (but not doing too well). Nonetheless, Skype is trying to get on each and every mobile/portable device and this is where this partnership makes sense.
Also, I would venture out to say that this partnership doesn’t involve a cost to either party. It’s just a win-win for Skype and Jingle. So, why not! I remember in the startup division I used to work in, we had a speech-recognition based system (much like Tellme), and we would make ‘Strategic Agreements’ like this every day (especially the kind that had no value). Seriously, both these companies could use some additional publicity anyway.