Google's VP of Search Products on Speech Recognition

You may have heard about our [directory assistance] 1-800-GOOG411 service. Whether or not free-411 is a profitable business unto itself is yet to be seen. I myself am somewhat skeptical. The reason we really did it is because we need to build a great speech-to-text model ... that we can use for all kinds of different things, including video search.
The speech recognition experts that we have say: If you want us to build a really robust speech model, we need a lot of phonemes, which is a syllable as spoken by a particular voice with a particular intonation. So we need a lot of people talking, saying things so that we can ultimately train off of that. ... So 1-800-GOOG411 is about that: Getting a bunch of different speech samples so when you call up or we're trying to get the voice out of video, we can do it with high accuracy.