Microsoft on Personalized Phone Portals

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Do you use MyYahoo as a portal page every time you access the Web? If you were away from your computer, and had a few minutes to spare, would you consider calling that page, and listening to it over the phone, to get your stock picks, or horoscope, or sports scores?

A newly granted patent from Microsoft describes a way of creating a personalized profile and phone system that can provide unique content tailored to you and your tastes, or allow you to access portal sites by phone such as MyYahoo.

The mix of Web and phone has the potential to provide some interesting and unique experiences beyond attempting to browse the Web on a small screen, or check email.

Microsoft’s patent enables a number of personalized approaches to using a telephone in a manner which interacts with information on the Web.

System for providing personalized content over a telephone interface to a user according to the corresponding personalization profile including the record of user actions or the record of user behavior
Invented by Hadi Partovi, Roderick Steven Brathwaite, Angus Macdonald Davis, Michael S. McCue, Brandon William Porter, John Giannandrea, Eckart Walther, Anthony Accardi, and Zhe Li
Assigned to Microsoft
US Patent 7,330,890
Granted February 12, 2008
Filed May 21, 2004


A method and apparatus for providing personalized information content over telephones is described. The creation of a voice portal is supported by the invention.

Embodiments of the invention use telephone identifying information such as the calling party’s number to identify, or create, user profiles for customization. The personalized content is specific to that user based on her/his telephone identifying information and may be further customized based on the current time, current date, the calling party’s locales, and/or the calling party’s dialect and speech patterns.

Also, the telephone identifying information may support targeted advertising, content, and purchasing recommendations specific to that user.

The system may use a voice password and/or touch-tone login system when appropriate to distinguish the caller or verify the caller’s identity for specific activities. Typically, embodiments of the invention will immediately present a caller personalized content based on her/his profile using the appropriate dialect as well as the caller’s preferred content.

Profiles can be constructed as the caller uses embodiments of the invention as well as through explicit designation of preferences.

For example, the user might specify an existing personalized site to use in building her/his profile. Additionally, new callers may have an initial profile generated based on one or more database lookups for demographic information based on their telephone identifying information.

Use of Automatic Number Identification System

This personalized phone system would involve the creation of a unique voice portal for each caller, and a profile for that person.

It would work with something like the automatic number identification (ANI) and calling number identification (CNID, CLID, or CID) within the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) to identify callers. Similar systems in other countries could be used to support similar services.

An example of the numbering service in use is the authorization of a credit card received in the mail, by a call from a home telephone numbers to activate the card. The credit card company does a match with the ANI information provided when the consumer calls from their previously provided telephone number. When the call is made, and the ANI matches the credit card company’s records, the credit card company activates the card.

Personalized Profiles and Information

A profile could be created over the phone or through the Web, using steps detailed in the patent application.

The service could provide information related to a number of topics, from a list of topics, such as business, weather, sports, entertainment.

A personalized web portal page, such as MyYahoo could be chosen as a source of content and information.

Information from other web sites could also be added, such as a service like MapQuest, or Ameritrade.

Personalization based upon location could also be a part of this system, providing location appropriate information to a caller, such as lottery results, weather reports, driving directions, show times for movies or other events, traffic reports, yellow page listings, and so on.

Time and date might also be a factor in personalization, with a call placed at lunch providing stock quotes, and a call on Friday night giving movie times:

For example, “It is Friday night, would you be interested in seeing a movie?” A “yes” response by the caller will lead to the presentation of a list that is both time and date adapted and locale appropriate. For example, a caller from Palo Alto at six o’clock p.m. on a Friday would hear about show times after six o’clock p.m. in his local area.

Targeted Advertising and Purchase Recommendations

Targeted advertising might be supported on this system, and could base its targeting upon solely upon the telephone identifying information, or on the user profile used.

Purchased recommendations might also be made by this system based upon location and what others in that location have purchased, or by what that caller may have purchased in the past.


I can see people using a system like this, where they set up a personalized page on the Web that can be called upon when they want, to access information.

The patent filing doesn’t tell us whether or not advertising on the system would support the costs of calls, but I could see that as an option. I don’t know if I would want to call an information system like this, and listen to a number of ads.

It is interesting that the example given in this patent of a personalized portal that could be called is the MyYahoo page, in light of recent attempts by Microsoft to purchase Yahoo. It shows one part of what Microsoft may value about Yahoo – the company’s popular portal services.

If this personalized phone system were developed, would you use it?

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3 thoughts on “Microsoft on Personalized Phone Portals”

  1. I think this may be useful for some however if you need information that bad why not have a smart phone? You can look at any time! I have been using a tmobile dash to run my internet business from my hand. Combining that with the freedom business system I have been using and there will be no need for me to call to get my portfolio quote. It certainly can not hurt as a value added service though!

  2. Hi Sarah,

    Good questions. If it’s easier calling to get information you’ve set up online already, it might be a lot easier to use a phone based portal. Guess time will tell.

  3. Since the introduction of the sidekick, accessing the web and all of its information from the palm of your hand has become a steady growing trend. Within 5 years of the sidekick debut we have gotten the treo, blackberry, 2 more updates on the sidekick and the infamous iphone. Not to mention all the other smartphones (i just worked up to a razr a few years too late) If an option to have all the benefits of a smartphone on your regular cellphone was to come around with just a phone call, I still think it wouldnt be a successful hit. All these smartphones prices dropping while people are already used to txting and whatnot while driving,walking,talking etc, whats to stop them from working a smartphone once its all there is available? As much as I don’t want an iphone, within 3 years I don’t think there will be a person on the planet without one.


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