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Giving Text Messages a Voice

A Combination of Text Messaging and Voicemail, Voice SMS is the Latest Twist on the Burgeoning SMS Market

You’re going to be 20 minutes late for a final review sales meeting. Traffic is slow, but moving, so you don’t want to risk sending a text message to your contact and get in an accident. You know she’s in a meeting so you don’t want to call her cell phone either.

What do you do?

Until a couple of years ago, you’d have to either call or dial the main number and leave a message with the receptionist. The recent emergence of voice SMS has provided a more palatable alternative. You simply record a message that you’ll be late into your cell phone, and press send to deliver that message to your contact. She’ll see that she has a message, and will press a button when she’s ready to access it.

A combination of text messaging and voicemail, voice SMS is the latest twist on the burgeoning short message service (SMS) market. While still an emerging technology, voice SMS’ widespread adoption hinges on pricing and delivering a service that doesn’t require network upgrades, new handset purchases, client downloads and end-user training.

To follow is an overview of the global market, the benefits of voice SMS, and some approaches that have worked so far in spurring adoption and increased average revenue per user (ARPU). I’ll discuss how regional markets in Asia and the U.S. are spurring different strategies for providing voice SMS services.

Getting personal
When you attempt to call another person live, it’s because you have the time and desire to interrupt whatever the other person is doing and initiate a conversation. However, there are many cases where you want to exchange information but don’t need or want to interrupt what the other person is doing at that moment. That’s where push messaging options such as e-mail, SMS, IM, and now Voice SMS come in.

Voice SMS completes the circle of personal communications that started with the telephone more than a century ago. It combines e-mail and text messaging’s immediacy with voicemail’s warmth and personal dimension. You can leave a personal message for someone without disturbing them. Recipients can check messages when they want, and they can either reply immediately with their own personal voice message, reply later, forward the message or not reply at all.

There are several reasons why this asynchronous (answer when you want to) push messaging is appealing. First, it’s easier than text messaging. Click. Record. Send. You don’t have to fiddle with small keypads and fix typos, etc. Voice SMS comes in handy when you want to leave a message for someone in a time zone where it’s either too late or too early to call them directly. Also, those who don’t have time for a full conversation can simply leave a voice SMS when they have a chance, and pick up the conversation later.

More Stories By Brough Turner

Brough Turner oversees the evolution of technology and product architectures and works on business strategy and new market development at NMS. He is a recognized expert in the telecom industry and has been heavily involved in VoIP since 1996. Brough invented the multi-vendor integration protocol (MVIP) and led the MVIP consortium as well as worked within the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group to drive the creation and adoption of CompactPCI. Brough earned a bachelor?s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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