UAE based TheQuestionCompany offers a service that will answer any question you have in max. 7 minutes as long as your in the UAE, making it a service that seems to be a good candidate to go out of business if all goes well for Google Ejabat SMS service.
Last week Google Ejabat launched an SMS service to compliment their existing online Arabic community Q/A platform. Before them was The Question Company which landed in Dubai to present a service for UAE residents almost identical to British success AQA (Any Question Answered).
With The Question Company, you don’t need to download any software or purchase any technology. All what you need is to be an Etisalat or Du subscriber
While the cost for a question was 3 Dirhams per SMS at the launch, the company has reduced the cost to 1 Dirham at the beginning of August due to higher influx of messages, that with the end of Ramadan and then Summer.
The Question Company launched the beginning of April 2010, and is run by Andrew Meikle (Founder, Managing Partner) and James Oliver (Sales & Marketing Manager).
The team of call-centre operators exists of 6 persons who are available as the company states all day, every day.
We emailed Andrew Meikle to get the skinny on how and what it is their doing. This is what he had to say:
“To date we have had over 3000 unique customers use our service, with 15,000 messages received and responded to, giving an average of 5 SMS’s per customer so far since launch in April 2010. Moreover we have some very loyal customers who have used us over 150 times.
We intend to establish The Question Company as a main information provider within the UAE and then expand through the region.
We have many advertisers on board and this is where we generate our revenue from. Each question and answer is categorised and allows advertisers to be featured within the response, within their category making it the most direct form of advertising currently available. As momentum is starting to build with customers usage of the service, the interest from advertisers is also building. We have exciting updates to our software that will make advertising more competitive and responses more efficient; but please also check our website in the coming weeks as we will have exciting new features there for the customers as well”.
We think the service is cool, but after hearing how they generate revenue wonder how this will affect the quality of their answers? Would a company be inserted in an SMS as an ad if the answer includes them? Or are the advertised companies included in the response as the answer itself.
Since we haven’t tested it because we’re not in UAE we can’t tell you what kind of response a question like ‘What is The Matrix’ would get, and although The Question Company don’t have 6 oracles answering your questions, they promise not one is automated which we hope time will tell whether or not can handle an expansion to include other parts of the region.
Either way, the success they’ve made is anything but disappointing. We hope Google’s recent addition to the SMS Q/A market will push them to improve, and not entirely out.