Hoosier-powered search engine ChaCha has unveiled a feature developed with the help of $2 million in Indiana state funds: mobile-phone-based searches. Scott Jones, the serial entrepreneur behind ChaCha, would like everyone to believe that this is a whole new category of search. Actually, it's something Google has been doing for years. (Try texting a search query to 46645 on your phone.) ChaCha's innovation? Instead of getting an answer back in seconds from a Google server, you have to wait minutes for a human "guide" to respond.
Jones makes this argument for the service's proposition:
They can either make you work at search, or we can give you the answer. Which do you want as you're driving down the highway?
This is the problem with rich entrepreneurs: They're out of touch with their customers. 99 cents may be nothing to Jones, a millionaire with a Midwestern mansion. But for those of us watching our pennies, why would we bother? ChaCha's new mobile service targets the idle rich: People, like Jones, who are used to making other people perform menial tasks.