Yahoo and Google have been busy reshaping their search home pages so people can access them easily from a phone. But the services can still be clunky, in part because of the billions of possible results pages in their databases.
That’s where the start-ups come in. Many, including Synfony, inFreeDA and Jingle, are pursuing niches where they think they can complement or out-simplify the big companies.
And some are thinking more grandly. Take Pankaj Shah, chief executive of 4INFO, a year-old Palo Alto start-up. He wants to go head-to-head with Google by eventually building a portable home page for search.
A number of other start-ups are targeting the $8 billion a year that U.S. consumers pay to dial directory assistance. Several companies now offer free voice services to people via their phone.