Skip to main content
Search
Services
TRAVEL

Cell phones have the answer

Everything you wanted to know by text but were afraid to ask

story.phone.jpg
Cell phone concierge services claim to be able to answer any question.

BUSINESS TRAVELLER

YOUR SAY

YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS

Biz Traveller

(CNN) -- Ever been stumped by a question when you're on the road? The answer could now be in the palm of your hand.

Most modern executives are never far away from cyber solutions, thanks to laptops, BlackBerrys and 3G or WAP-equipped cell phones.

But sometimes technology falls short, leaving users stranded outside hi-tech network coverage.

This is where a new breed of cell phone "concierge" service using trusty text message technology comes in handy.

Several operators have launched in recent months, claiming they can answer any question sent by simple SMS -- the short message service supported by virtually all cell phone networks.

In the U.S., these have now begun directly targeting business travelers following a deal between car rental firm Avis and mobile information providers AskMeNow.

The question-answering services claim to be able to respond to any query from "why is the sky blue?" to more complex requests about hotels, transport or directions.

Among those offering text message services is leading Internet search engine Google, which provides U.S. cell phone users with help in the shape of directory listings, movie times, stock prices and even the locations of local pizza restaurants.

In Australia, the Mojoknows service claims it will answer any question by text message within 15 minutes. In the UK, AQA (short for "any questions answered") says it can do it in six. Users pay for the service with charges on their phone bill.

AskMeNow CEO Darryl Cohen said his firm's service, retailing at 49 cents an answer and drawing responses from a call center based in the Philippines, offers an indispensable resource for executives on the move.

Surge in sex questions

"By providing responses to virtually any question at any time from any location, AskMeNow is the ultimate business resource for any business person on the road," he said.

But these bold claims have raised the eyebrows of skeptics who have tried to stump the services with a particularly tough line of questioning.

The New York Times put AskMeNow on the spot with the poser: "Does Franklin Delano Roosevelt deserve credit for ending the Depression?''

It received "an extensive but noncommittal response ... beginning, 'President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal fought the Great Depression on a number of fronts.'''

In the UK, the AQA service seems to have attracted a more salacious line of inquiry, reporting a significant surge in sex-related questions shortly before 11 p.m.

Story Tools
Subscribe to Time for $1.99 cover
Top Stories
Get up-to-the minute news from CNN
CNN.com gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.
Top Stories
Get up-to-the minute news from CNN
CNN.com gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.
Search JobsMORE OPTIONS


 
Search
© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by CNN.com
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines