Friday, May 24, 2024

Mobile Gadgets on the Rise

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PALO ALTO, Calif. — Mobile advances are coming fast and furious, judging by the lineup of presenters here at the day two wrap up of the AlwaysOn Summit.

Kicking things off was Mplayit, which showed off its Mpowerplayer, what it calls a social app store that aggregates content for mobile users in one Web location.

Mplayit CEO Michael Powers says Mpowerplayer addresses the inevitable need for a “meta app store” that casual users can find on the Web to more easily find the content and applications they’re looking for. “We’re building a network where we collect users and send them off to the appropriate app store and content,” said Powers.

Working with mobile carriers and leveraging social networks (it’s the top Facebook application for “mobile”), Mpowerplayer is designed to be a kind of hub for finding apps and trying them out. “Most casual users won’t go to an app store to figure out what they want,” said Powers. “This is like lead generation for the developer. When the user clicks to buy, they’re highly motivated.”


A company called Promptu Systems previewed its ShoutOut mobile messaging application currently in development. With ShoutOut, mobile users will be able to send voice messages as text SMS messages, Twitter posts or to other services by voice command.

“We transmit over the data lines for better voice recognition and it’s all in real time,” said Scott Maddux, vice president of marketing at Promptu.

The text messaging market is hugely popular, so much so that several states have passed legislation making it illegal to text while driving. The typical U.S. mobile subscriber sent and received more SMS text messages than telephones calls last year, according to Nielsen Mobile, which also reports the average mobile customer now sends or receives more than 350 text messages per month.

With ShoutOut, users first hear a playback of the message so they can check it for accuracy with the option to edit or append the message. “This is fully automated, network speech recognition that’s scalable and secure with no human transcription,” said Maddux.

Yesterday the company announced a deal with Telecom Italia Mobile that makes its voice-to-text messaging application available in Italy on the iPhone via the App Store. ProntoTreno is a new voice-powered Trenitalia service using Promptu’s technology, that will let Italian train commuters check schedules and buy train tickets using the iPhone.

Voicemail is dead, long live Voicemail

Alex Quilici, CEO of YouMail, started his presentation by admitting mobile voice mail is boring and even a “pain point” for consumers, but his company is focused on spicing it up.

“There are a billion voice mailboxes out there and the number is growing,” said Quilici.

The company’s core YouMail service to consumers provides free visual voicemail so you can easily check your messages on a mobile device. It’s available for Android, iPhone, BlackBerry and other devices. In addition to seeing the voicemail messages, YouMail lets you forward messages or post them to social network sites like Facebook and Twitter. “We also make it easy to block voicemail from telemarketers or anyone you don’t want to hear from,” said Quilici.

YouMail has almost 500,000 accounts and has a community site where custom greetings and other content created by members is available. YouMail charges for additional services like transcription. Other features include being able to leave custom greetings for specific people as well as e-mail and text alerts when a new message has arrived.

“Contrary to popular belief, mobile voicemail is not dead,” Quilici said to an audience that included many venture capitalists and investors. “We have a sustainable, growing business.”

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