Very soon after Microsoft launched its Bing Internet search division in 2009, it launched a phone-based business search service as well. Bing 411 let people call a number (either 1-800-BING-411 or 1-800-CALL-411) to use their voice to search for businesses via Microsoft's TellMe technologies. In the original announcement nearly three years ago, Microsoft described the many other features of Bing 411:
Call Bing 411 to find a business, then connect to it or get an SMS with a link to a map (which you can also send to a friend). Bing 411 even includes star ratings of businesses based on reviews by other consumers. You can get traffic-influenced driving directions, and for movie theaters, you can get show times and even buy tickets.
This week, users that call both of those phone numbers are now being told, via an automated message, the Bing 411 service will shut down on June 1st. The message directs users to go to the Bing website on their PCs and mobile devices after that date to get their business information.
There is no word why Microsoft is closing down those numbers. However, the division of the company which Bing is a part of continues to lose money and its likely that this decision is a cost-cutting move. Also, Microsoft announced a deal in February with software company 24/7 Inc. that included the transfer of 400 people in Microsoft's TellMe division over to 24/7 Inc.