June 10, 2023

Review: ChaCha

There’s a lot of companies that are failing miserably at human powered search. Venture capitalists are all too eager to throw their cash toward anybody with a good domain name and a plan to be a “google killer.” (note: start a company to cater to this cash)

Then, there’s ChaCha – human powered search that’s currently the best out there in it’s field. ChaCha is a free text message based service that lets you text a question to 242242 (which spells chacha) and receive an answer back in a few minutes.

I tried it out by sending 2 questions. The first was rather simple factual lookup:

“When is olympic womens gymnastics scheduled to shoe on tv?” You’ll notice I put “shoe” instead of “show” because I wanted to test their ability to interpret what I meant (and whether or not it was outsourced to india – it’s not.)

In about 2-3 minutes I got back this reply:

8pm-midnight(NBC) women’s gymnastics team final; simming: men’s 100 freestyle, 200 butterfly.

It also gave me a web URL to my answer: http://chacha.com/u/zokazkyc

The next question I asked was more open ended and political:

“Why did Russia invade Georgia?”

The answer: http://chacha.com/u/hygaz3cu. It’s not a real human answer, but merely a quote from an AP news article with a link to the actual article. Still, the article was pretty useful.

So, how can this company make money? It looks like their current plan is to have a desktop version with ads, and to include ads in the text messages. There seems to be a smaller revenue opportunity in going the personal assistant route. For example if somebody is searching for a price on something, offer to buy it for them. If they’re searching for a flight, book it.

Will chacha be the next Google killer? No, but it’s still a pretty neat service for settling bar bets.

Why won’t it be the next Google killer? WIFI. As more and more phones become WIFI enabled and businesses start offering WIFI there won’t be a need to text message my question to somebody else. I can just Google it – which is why these services won’t beat Google.

Still, it’s a pretty neat free service.

About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is an SEO from Detroit. By day he works as a manager of SEO & Analytics at SapientNitro where his team performs SEO for Fortune500 clients. By night he's either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world with his own websites - which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. The views expressed here have not been paid for and belong only to Ryan, not any of his employers or clients. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones, add him on Google+ or visit his personal website: www.RyanMJones.com