Given the changes in communication preferences it’s interesting that the Voicemail services that I use at home/work aren’t significantly different from the first microcassete based answering machines my parents had when I was growing up. Good design is good design, and I’m all for not messing with something that works, but I find that the prominent consumer based Voicemail services don’t work for me.
The main problem I have is that in the course of a day I routinely end up accumulating far too many Voicemail’s. Managing them once they build up is a hassle.
A number of folks are playing in the Voicemail space looking to put their spin on how they think this should work (and likely hoping they hit on something that they can patent and ultimately license to the telco’s for the next 25 years).
I’ve been watching Pinger, Jott, SimulScribe and Spinvox. With the exception of Pinger they are all apparently focusing on providing a voice recognition service that converts your audio voicemail messages into text. Once complete, they then deliver each message as text to you via SMS/Email/etc.
While these are all interesting and useful I would prefer more than just voice to text functionality. I would like see message consolidation and application integration. And, I would prefer not to have to spend a lot of time managing the service or jerry rigging it do do what I want.
While many businesses have had handy Voicemail integration into applications like Outlook for sometime, consumers aren’t seeing these basic innovations reach them. Soon, the iPhone will usher in some improvements to the Voicemail experience that just might be enough to tide folks over for awhile but I think there’s major room for improvement.
On a sidenote, I should mention in 2005 I built a most useless Karaoke Voicemail service.