As feature phone sales decrease, Google has shut down SMS Search
The thought of actually using a phone without a data plan seems insane in today’s smartphone-centric world, but for the past few years, Google has offered non-smartphone users a way to search Google via SMS. Normally, Google only shuts down services in large batches, but on occassion, they will also get rid of individual services.
That appears to be what has happened to Google’s SMS Search service which stopped working on Friday. After many users began to realize that SMS Search was not working, they took to the Internet to see what was going on. One of Google’s employees, Jessica S. responded to these questions on Reddit and the Google Product Forums by saying:
Closing products always involves tough choices, but we do think very hard about each decision and its implications for our users. Streamlining our services enables us to focus on creating beautiful technology that will improve people’s lives.
Basically, SMS Search allowed users to send queries to a short number and then receive search results back as text messages. However, none of the results included links and instead would display actual data such as currency conversions, weather, and local listings. For the minority of people that used the service on their smartphones, the results would come back in the same way.
Of all the services for Google to shut down, SMS Search definitely makes sense since feature phone sales have been rapidly decreasing during the past couple of years. However, Google still offers some SMS-based services such as the ability to update your Blogger website, check Gmail, check your calendar, or send SMS messages via Google Voice.
Considering Google was able to bring themselves to scrap one of their largest services, Google Reader, it did seem unlikely that they would continue to provide life support to such a relatively small service like SMS Search.