Remember Intelius, the company that was making a giant directory of unlisted cellphone numbers that you could search (and pay money for)? They're changing the project after the huge negative response from consumers and the media. Hit the jump for their own reasons why they made the directory in the first place and why they're dropping the directory part and just focusing on the "Caller ID" service. This allows you to plug in a number and get information about that number. Not quite as privacy-invading as a gigantic browsable database, which is good.
Why did Intelius develop a cell directory?
The trend of Americans increasingly relying on their cell phones as their only method of telecommunication was compelling, and indicated that consumers were transitioning away from land lines en masse. If that were the case, we believed consumers would need many of the same tools widely available to landline users, such as a cell-based white pages service (our directory) to keep them connected and enable their friends, colleagues and classmates to be able to keep in touch with them in an increasingly transient society.
The indicators for market demand for such a service were strong: In 2005, according to one In-Stat report, 43% of phone users nationwide were considering switching to mobile phones as their primary phone, but only 1 in 20 adults lived in wireless-only households. By 2006, that number had grown to 1 in 10. During the first six months of 2007, 1 out of every 8 adults inhabited a cell-only household. And with approximately 200,000 American households moving daily, it was clear to us that consumers were likely struggling to stay connected with a network of friends and family members who continued to move nationwide.
Early adopters likely to be the key demographic for the product: "Early adopters" of new services often fall in the 30 and under age group. Importantly to us, the National Center for Health Statistics reported 30% of adults age 18 to 29 have only a wireless phone, more than double the number of those over age 30 who rely only on a cell phone. This segment of the population, we believed, would likely be the first users of our service when we launched it as a test product a few months ago.
Telemarketers a non-issue: We recognized that telemarketing calls to cell phones would be a non-issue, as we planned never to sell cell numbers in bulk to businesses. Moreover, a federal law already exists prohibiting telemarketers to call cell phones, which supported by the Do Not Call Registry makes a strong statement against such practices.
Price Point as a Barrier: The price point of the product was set to make it difficult for someone to randomly buy phone numbers for people they don't know. Our thinking was that if someone is going to pay $15 for a phone number, they likely know who they're calling. Again, we never sold these numbers in bulk and we did a velocity check to ensure no customer purchased more than a few numbers for personal use.
Intelius Listens to Customers; Pulls the Plug on Cell Phone Directory Service
Company's Popular Cell Phone Caller ID Service Still Allows Customers to Identify Unrecognized Numbers for Personal Safety
BELLEVUE, WA — February 01, 2008 — In response to consumer feedback, Intelius Inc., a company that empowers consumers and businesses with information for intelligent decisions, today announced that it has discontinued its search by name cell phone directory service. Intelius launched the cell phone directory in recent months as a test for the first-of-its-kind resource.
"As a company, we have strived to be at the forefront of innovation," said Liz Murray, Communications Manager at Intelius. "We realize that in this instance we may have been ahead of our time. Wireless carriers attempted to develop a similar product a few years ago and found the market wasn't ready; it's clear that the market is still not ready. We always listen carefully to our customers, which is why we recently discontinued our cell phone directory."
In keeping with the company's mission to empower consumers with information services for personal and family safety, Intelius continues to offer a Cell Phone Caller ID service (reverse search). This service works much like the caller ID consumers are familiar with on their home phones. Cell Phone Caller ID allows a customer to input a number that has shown up on their home or cell phone into the Intelius site and receive basic information associated with that number. Consumers can use this service to protect themselves from harassing calls, hang-ups, pranks, or mystery calls into their children or other family members.
"We believe that consumers have a right to know who's calling them. Our Cell Phone Caller ID service is a natural extension of our personal safety and information services, and we believe it is a critical tool to prevent the creation of a safe-harbor for harassers, predators, telemarketers and pranksters," Murray explains. "We are firmly committed to providing consumers positive, proactive ways to help them protect their personal safety and obtain peace of mind."