Sell New Services

Recently Verizon Wireless is impressing me more and more. They started to catch my attention when they started working with Palm and Microsoft on a Microsoft based Treo. The latest thing the company has done is solve a problem I have had for a while.

I hate calling Information or 411. I think it is a terrible waste of money as the same information is available for free virtually everywhere.

Nine out of ten times I call information from my mobile phone as my car is a place that doesn’t easily lend itself to looking up phone numbers online. The mobile companies do something smart in connecting you directly with your party when you call information. This saves time, effort and energy. The problem is if you are driving you often can’t write down the number they are connecting you too.

This is fine unless of course you get a busy signal or need to call back again later. In either case, guess what? You have to call Information once again.

So there was a dramatic need to solve a problem as I am sure I can’t be the only person who hates dialing 411. The solution? Verizon Wireless now allows you to pres a button to have an SMS of the phone number and address sent to your phone. In the message they tell you normal charges apply. I am not sure what I pay per SMS but I love this service and it is a way for the company to make incremental revenue and keep customers happy.

A few years back at the 3GSM conference in France I ran into Natural Microsystems and they showed me technology allowing regular home phones to receive SMS messages. I thought this was a brilliant idea. I still do. I suppose the market didn’t want this or no service provider decided to roll it out. Either way, I imagine such a phone being very useful in providing services such as this Information example.

All service providers would do well to start thinking about how they can make their customer’s lives easier. For example it is only a matter of time before the perfect speech application is embedded into a service provider network allowing one to upload all their contacts and be able to pick up any phone and say “dial home” or “dial office”. Z-Tel was one of the first service providers to offer such a service and I am not sure why it didn’t catch on but it is apparent (to me anyway) that it has to.

Oh yes, most phones can do speech recognition – just not too well.

So service providers need to experiment and try to come up with ways to make customers more efficient and charge them incrementally for new services. Alternatively they can bundle service offerings into silver and gold packages the way cable companies bundle channels. The latter method is likely what will work best but the services will need to be easily understood before this happens.

I truly look forward to the day when service providers try experimenting until they find the one or more killer service(s).

  • MichaelGW
    November 10, 2005 at 7:07 am

    Microsoft continues to buy VoIP companies – after Teleo this summer, MS bought Swiss VoIP company ( last week. What do you think would be Skype’s value if MS (or Google) buys GIPS (current voice engine provider to Skype)?

  • Rich Tehrani
    November 10, 2005 at 8:46 am

    I assume the point is that GIPS provides the underlying tech to Skype and would somehow sabotage Skype’s efforts. While GIPS has great technology they have competition like Spirit DSP. What these companies create is complex but not something you can’t create yourself if you want.
    Remember how much money is flowing into VoIP. People are looking for opportunities. I can’t imagine the loss of any company in our space being catastrophic… Another will simply replace them a few months and millions of dollars later.

  • Ted
    November 10, 2005 at 2:34 pm

    Yes, Rich, as far as I know GIPS provides voice technology to Skype. But it looks like GIPS is now trying to sell itself to Microsoft and Google. Neither eBay nor Skype obviously are willing to buy GIPS, they had much time to do that before already, if they wanted to. But there was GIPS press release this Summer that Microsoft licensed voice engine from GIPS, but now there is no GIPS in the latest MSN Messenger… And Microsoft is not even among GIPS listed clients. I sense something is going on between GIPS and Microsoft. Also it is clear Microsoft (and Google) will be happy to harm Skype by buying GIPS. What do you think? I did not know about Spirit DSP before, but I looked at their site and their voice clients list looks very impressive….

  • Bob Bruneau
    November 16, 2005 at 11:40 am

    Things considered, but, along with GIPS’ support lost, what are the other risks for Skype in having MS absorbing GIPS?

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