Thursday, October 14, 2010

Interpreter needed for Google PR rep's replies to NY Times columnist

Here's a corporate PR response that would make double talk master Professor Irwin Corey proud, courtesy of Google.

On its site, Google announced it was shutting down 800-GOOG-411, its free phone voice-activated directory service, on November 12.

New York Times consumer tech columnist David Pogue mourned its demise and contacted Google for a reason why the service was being turned off.

Here is the very rigid response from Google's public relations department that practically sounds automated itself:

“Our focus is to provide the most value that we can for our users. In this context, we see the combination of speech technologies with the increasing growth of smartphones as a better opportunity to provide more value for users, so that is where we’ve chosen to focus our efforts.”

Not satisfied with that response, Pogue wrote back to them: “Thanks for the information. But if Google’s focus is to provide ‘the most value,’ then certainly a service that works on 100% of phones provides more value than one that works only only 5% of phones [i.e. Android-powered]. Is there a more plausible reason?”

Google PR's reply: “GOOG-411 showed that a fully-automated service could connect callers and businesses all over the country. We will continue to invest in voice recognition technology.”

Well, I know where that investment is going. It's probably being diverted to a new Google product where they power all public relations departments' incoming telephone lines, with stiff lawyer-written replies to journalists' voice-activated questions.

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