Friday, August 17, 2007

What is Voice Sms ?

Voice sms is a feature/product that allows users to send voice messages to mobile phones using sms in a non-intrusive way. Here is a quick dump of some of the cool things about voice sms feature:
• Send voice message as sms text in a non-intrusive (discreet, without ringing the phone) way.
• Answer sms text message with voice.
• Ease of sending voice message with a click of the button. ( get rid of that cumbersome text typing, in case of pure text sms )
• Convey user emotions/expression (“SMS with Feelings “) through sms. ( Cannot express users emotion through text )
• One way Voice Communication with group of people non- intrusively through sms.
• No language barrier. User can send voice message in the language of their preference.
• Any handset with sms support can use this feature.
• Easier to manage than voice mail.
• Voice mail service is not required to use this feature.

I have been following voice sms for quite sometime now. Something that is kind of hard to understand is, why is this service not a big hit in North America?. Why is the service such a big hit in Asia and developing countries?. I guess this could be because of the couple of reasons
• Mobile penetration is huge in developing countries. For e.g. According to a report in information week, India added around 74 million new mobile telephone subscribers last year 2006.
• Awareness of using high end phones is low in these markets. Technology penetration to rural areas is slow.
• sms text messaging is way too high in developing countries. Part of it could be because off Sms rates, that are typically very low compared to developed countries.

Sprint PCS launched this service in the year 2004, im not sure if any other competitors followed the bandwagon. Either competitors didn’t see much value in this application or they were busy deploying other killer applications. Doesn’t mean voice sms is not a killer app. It is definitely rocking other countries.

Here is a forecast about sms from gartner dataquest

Some companies to watch in this space:

Looked at their demo. I could see only the clientless solution. Not sure if they have a client solution. Worthy of mention is, they got a 10 million dollar funding recently. Not sure why you need so much money for such a simple product. Maybe VC’s have too much money and are not sure where to spend them . Have a pretty decent list of customers. Not sure if these guys bought Hey Anita and continued with their product.

Bubble Motion
Bubble motion claims to be the old horse in the voice sms arena. They recently released BubbleTalk 2.0 that supports multi lingual and group calling. I’m so sick and tired of hearing this 2.0( web 2.0, mobile 2.0, voice 2.0 ). I hope somebody doesn’t patent this word/number 2.0. Someday im going to change my last name to 3.0 or N.0.
Also, I like the concept of a voice SMS but I think the pre-dial is a bit clunky and cumbersome to use.

These guys are called Global roaming and mobile connectivity specialist. They support international voice sms. Compared to other companies providing voice sms, these guys have a rich set of products. Voice sms is part of their different product portfolio.

Looks like these guys are actually pretty old and should be the first guys to come up with voice sms. I don’t have the exact details about who really came up with this novel idea. Im gonna pass on this. Apparently, sprint has launched this service in 2004. Im wondering why none of the competitors( Cingular, Alltel or Verizon ) bothered to come up with their own version of voice sms. Also, another unique thing about core mobility product is, you can record your voice with the handset. Like a recorder on the pc with pause, replay buttons. This has its own drawback, u need a handset that supports MMS and core mobility client.

Looks like these guys fall under Unified messaging category with SayText being part of the complete portfolio

Pinger, the only independent company that is not targeting the operators. Any users can register with the service and start using it. It’s not tied up with any operators. Also, it supports voice activated message recording. Somebody understands users' problem well.
It’s pretty similar to other voice sms vendors.

Kodiak Networks
Kodiak has a suite of different products in their portfolio, and voice sms is one among them. Initially started as a PTT company, ventured into other voice applications. (Could become a leader in PTT, if they buy Nextel. Don’t bother about this comment, my beer and wine are reacting :-)).
They support both client and clientless solution for voice sms. I love the idea of sending voice sms to group of people without typing all the contact numbers manually. Downside is, u need to install Kodiaks client to do the bulk of work. I strongly believe in voice convergence, and they have all the apps required to support this. From a user standpoint, it makes lot more sense to download one client with multiple killer apps.

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Anonymous said...

I'm liking the voiceSMS function. You can send out a multi invites the easy way. Great weekend or event tool.

info said...

Take a look at, great voice sms feature or bulk voice as they call it