Building a Better Voicemail App: It's All about Features
October 11, 2011
By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor
Is voicemail dead? That depends on whom you ask.
For YouMail (News - Alert), a provider of mobile communication applications, voicemail is very much alive and well. The company’s flagship product, YouMail Visual Voicemail Plus, competes with the likes of Phone Tag and Google (News - Alert) Plus — and does so successfully because of a very robust feature set.
It also helps that YouMail Visual Voicemail is a freemium app for iPhone, BlackBerry (News - Alert) and Android devices; the base product (which is fairly sophisticated, and hardly basic) is free, with add-on capabilities available for a fee.
One of those added capabilities is human edited transcription for voicemail messages. Alex Quilici (News - Alert), YouMail’s CEO, explained during a TMCnet video interview that machine transcription typically has a failure rate of about 20 percent; that’s roughly one out of every five words wrong.
“If you just need the gist of a voicemail message, that’s fine,” Quilici noted during the interview. “But if you’re a real estate agent or a small business person, you don’t want to be listening to the message because you can’t figure it out from the transcription. It’s a huge time-saver.”
He added that the average turn-around time for human transcribed voicemail messages—sent via e-mail or through the mobile app—is two minutes.
Quilici’s take on voicemail: Given that YouMail—a startup with market share in the single digits—has had more than a billion calls processed by its platform, voicemail is obviously still alive and well.
“If you’ve called somebody, odds are one in four you’ve left a message with YouMail at some point,” he said during the video interview. “This proves that if you give people ownership of voicemail, unlocked so they can share it, they do.”
In the process of focusing on doing voicemail really well (with features like greeting people by name automatically, and social caller ID for reporting information about spammers, YouMail has developed a strong platform that enables it to build new apps quickly and cheaply. The company plan to leverage that platform and build on its past success with new offerings.
For more discussion about voicemail, including which features people are wiling to pay for and why, watch the full video interview.
Mae Kowalke is a TMCnet contributor. She is Manager of Stories at Neundorfer, Inc., a cleantech company in Northeast Ohio. She has more than 10 years experience in journalism, marketing and communications, and has a passion for new tech gadgets. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Rich Steeves