Feeds

Google abruptly shuts down search-by-SMS portal

Users cut off without notice, apparently for good

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Without warning, Google has shut down the gateway that allowed mobile users to access its search engine via SMS text, effectively cutting off from the service customers who lack data plans.

The Chocolate Factory launched its SMS search feature in 2004 and has maintained it ever since, providing abridged query results such as phone numbers, addresses, or sports scores via 140-character text messages.

Beginning last week, however, users of the service began receiving only a message reading, "SMS search has been shutdown. You can continue to search the web at google.com on any device."

Naturally, that "any device" would have to be one with wireless data connectivity, excluding those users with low-end feature phones – still quite common in the developing world – or who simply don't want to pay for a data plan.

Shuttering less-popular (or less-lucrative) services is nothing new for Google. It has axed a dozen or more products and features in successive rounds of "spring cleaning" over the past few years, occasionally angering their fans (and a few foes).

What is unusual for the online giant, however, is to kill one of its services so suddenly, and without advance notice. Typically users are given some time to adjust – for example, fans of Google Reader will be able to use the service through July 1, despite Google having announced its demise in March.

When The Reg contacted Google to see if there was some mistake, we received a brief statement in reply:

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.

We have to admit the move makes a certain amount of sense. Google is all about pushing mobile technology forward, and it stands to gain more by nudging customers toward Android smartphones than by maintaining clumsy tech like its SMS Search gateway. Still, we can't help but lament the loss of what seemed like a genuinely handy feature, in a pinch.

A visit to Google's SMS applications homepage shows that the Chocolate Factory is still maintaining a few of its SMS applications, including the Calendar, Blogger, Gmail, and Google Voice portals – at least for now. But as of Monday, the SMS Search link yields only a 404 error. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
Chrome 38's new HTML tag support makes fatties FIT and SKINNIER
First browser to protect networks' bandwith using official spec
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.