82ASK is an SMS question service that’s the main rival to AQA here in the UK. You text it a question, and get an answer in response, paying a quid in the process.
There’s clearly money in it, because 82ASK is splashing £1m on a relaunch, including changing its name to Texperts and projecting an ad onto the side of Wembley Stadium. The interesting thing is the change of focus. You might think services like this are for novelty value only, or at best a way to ensure you hang onto your pub-quiz champion status.
But Texperts reckons an increasing number of its incoming questions concern practical, useful information like directory enquiries, travel timetables, restaurant information and requests for directions.
Serving this demand takes a service like Texperts away from being a pure novelty, and into the area of being a competitor for mobile search services like Google. The theory: messaging is more intuitive to most mobile users than firing up their mobile internet browser. They may have a point, too – although if you’re on a flat-rate data tariff, the latter is free.
The relaunch includes bolstering the company’s ‘texperts’ to 200 in number, many of whom are proper pointy-headed academics (although surely they’re wasted on queries like ‘WHEREZ MY NEAREST KEBAB SHOP PLZ?’). Anyway, it still costs a quid, so text your question to its all-new 66000 shortcode to try it.