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Is Voicemail-to-Text Ready for the Masses?

By Ericka Chickowski  |  Posted 2008-02-05 Print this article Print

Emerging voicemail-to-text technologies offer flexibility and conveinence for busy professionals, but is the market headed toward mass consumption? Will mobile and Internet carriers be a barrier or a benevolent player in this technology’s ascension?

Is voicemail-to-text technology ready for prime time absorption by business and consumer users?

Estimates are difficult to come by, because as competition heats up, each player is holding its rate of penetration close to the vest. SimulScribe stopped announcing its numbers after reaching 10,000 subscribers and $1 million in revenue. It is safe to assume a base of more than 2.5 million, considering the fact that SimulScribe SimulSays powers Vonage’s free Vonage Text offering.

CallWave is just coming out of beta with its Vtext voicemail-to-text technology, but it won't say how many people have tested the product or are choosing to now pay for it. It has said that so far it has processed over two billion voicemails.

SpinVox is the most open about its numbers, claiming a subscriber base of 4 million.

If this is any indication of the growth that the market can expect in the near future, it is clear that the potential is there, but it still has a long way to go before voicemail-to-text hits the mainstream. Even with a combined subscriber base in the low millions, that is just a tiny fraction of the overall potential market—the U.S. mobile market alone contains more than 90 billion voicemail inboxes according to CallWave figures.

 “It is still too early for this to have permeated into the mainstream, but that is where the endgame is,” said William Ho, analyst with Current Analysis. “I think there is potential for this stuff, because I think that in today’s environment where people are busy all of the time, on the move and forwarding their office phones to their cell phones, to have this feature on there could potentially be valuable.”

One of the players in this emerging market has an interesting take on the technology, claiming it to be a key part of unified communications, one that includes VOIP, instant messaging, PBX systems, and, of course, mobile devices.

“Voicemail-to-text is the missing piece of the unified communications puzzle,” said Richard Stern, senior vice president of global product marketing for SpinVox. “Users gain the benefit of text-based technology, including searchability and the ability to deal with messages on their own time. If I’m in a meeting I can now check my voicemail slyly under the table and tap in quick reply.”

Stern believes that as word gets out and demand mushrooms, voicemail-to-text has the potential to become ubiquitous in as few as 12 to 24 months. Right now, however, the market is still in its infancy and analysts haven’t even gotten around to sizing it.

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