The directory assistance market in 2003 brought in
$22 billion from North and South America, Western Europe and the Pacific
according to the Zelos Group. These are numbers that are difficult to
fathom. This money could probably end world hunger, build better schools
worldwide, reduce worldwide poverty rates and more. I found another market
The Pierz Group that pegs the US directory assistance market in 2004
at more than $6 billion, growing to over $8 billion in 2007!
These numbers include fixed line and mobile
assistance, and for those of you that have used directory assistance, you
know you can pay just under a dollar for fixed assistance to over a dollar
for mobile. In order to make sense of these outrageously large numbers in
my head, I assumed 200 million US citizens are able to call directory
assistance. Assuming each call costs about a dollar on average, to hit six
billion, each person would have to make 30 calls a year -- or one call
every 12 days -- which seems high to me.
But taking these figures at face value, corporations
and individuals have a tremendous incentive to reduce these costs. When
you are in front of a computer you can use
Verizon�s SuperPages for businesses or
Yahoo People Search for individuals, but what about from your mobile
phone? It is on your mobile phone, where you need directory assistance the
most, that the costs are highest.
A company called
Easy411 wants to reduce these costs by charging only 65 cents per
directory assistance call. I have tested the service twice and it works as
well as any other directory assistance I have called. There is an
automated �What city please?� followed by a live agent. You can receive
two listings per call. The one downside is that they don�t connect you
automatically to your party. You may consider this a good option as it
requires you to place the call yourself, meaning the number will be saved
in your phone for future use. Many times when mobile directory assistance
completes a call for me, the number is busy and I need to call back
But getting back to savings, here are the directory
assistance charges from some of the major wireless carriers:
Sprint PCS $1.25
So, the savings in many cases is in the 40 to 50
percent range. According to The Pierz Group, about $2 billion of the $6
billion total dollars spent in the U.S. on directory assistance are for
mobile calls. Assuming a savings of only 35 percent per call, the total
amount saved in the U.S. would be $700 million dollars!
The way it works is straightforward�When you sign up
for an account, you specify your cell phone or other number so that when
you call Easy411, whose number is 877-EASY-411 (877-327-9411). There
is a corporate option allowing you to enroll many numbers in a single
step. They are working on a consumer/business option in which the charges
can be billed to either the user or the company (for reimbursable calls).
If you don�t enjoy being nickel and dimed to death
(who does?), give the service a try and lets start axing that over $22
billion dollars down to size!
Please talk back to
me in our forums.
Rich Tehrani is TMC's president. He welcomes your comments.
Participate in our forums.
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