Google has finally pulled the plug on SMS Search, a feature on phones allowing a user to text Google a query and then Google would send back a list of results and answers.
This was used regularly back when the iPhone and Android smartphones were not a thing and people used either a “baby Internet” portal on a mobile or a feature phone.
Instead of waiting a few minutes for pages to load on 2G connections, the SMS messaging was instant and Google had quick speeds getting back to queries.
Google SMS Search axed
Incredibly, at the time this was one of the fastest ways to get information from Google, as feature phones had no Internet functionality and smartphones at the time had poor wireless speeds and bad Internet rendering engines.
As the iPhone started to become widely used, people stopped texting Google for information and instead found the Internet on the mobile worked well enough, although data speeds didn’t really get fast until 3G, around 2009.
SMS Search brings back memories of the mobile industry pre-iPhone and how Google and other companies were working to try and bring the web to users.
Google is currently working to bring a better web to mobile and at Google I/O yesterday they showed off how capable Chrome was at handling some powerful websites on mobile devices.
We aren’t sure why this took so long to delete, perhaps Google had a strong audience in developing countries who still had feature phones, but Google isn’t the nicest company when it comes to a few people using a niche product.
The problem was SMS Search was not an easy thing to know, Google never advertised this way of getting information and only the tech savvy really adopted it after mobile web became good enough.
Google’s Spring cleaning
Google decided not to give the SMS Search death a formal goodbye, instead closing the service without any warning. Anyone who tried to get in contact was told the service was no longer active.
This is for every country that previously ran the SMS Search service, Google has decided to discontinue the service and realistically we have not seen any backlash to the decision.
However, this is one of the first times in recent memory we have seen Google drop a service and not get some users angry, Google Reader is the biggest case in the past year.
Google decided Reader was not bringing in enough revenue to continue and when they announced the removal of the service people went mad on Twitter and other social networks.
The top trend on Twitter was RIP Google Reader and other readers reported massive influxes of users, Digg even said they would be making their own service before Reader becomes completely unavailable.