SMS is the new black

A review of mass market mobile apps

Daniel Doulton of SpinVox

Posted by Admin on December 5, 2008

I recently got the chance to ask Daniel Doulton, CSO and co-founder of SpinVox a few questions. I’m really grateful he took the time out to provide a few answers.

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daniel doulton

Why was the service developed?
The SpinVox journey started with a genuine epiphany born out of frustration: the clumsiness of Voicemail – dial in, wade through, find a pen for the interesting bits, take numbers … Pursuing the ‘A-ha’ moment, when my business partner Christina Domecq, after receiving 14 voicemails after coming out of a meeting, imagined how a voicemail arriving on your phone or inbox as text would mean you could store, search and manipulate the message to enable a swifter, easier response to the data contained in it. I went off to find a service that could deliver it. It took 24 hours to find out that none existed so we decided to build the company that could – the result was SpinVox.

How does a user access your service?
This is dependent on where you are in the world. For example, we have 13 carrier deals in place across the world whereby SpinVox is delivered a service to its customers. Currently in the UK, you purchase SpinVox as a package which entitles you to a set amount of voice conversions. It’s very simple to get started, all you need to do is provide some information about the type of phone you have, the carrier that you are connected to and relevant contact information and we will set you up straight away.

Could my mum use it?
Anyone can use it. Your voicemails are sent to you via SMS or email and you simply open them like normal and read the message contained inside. We offer other services as well, like SpinVox Blog and SpinVox Memo. With both of these services, the user simply speaks to their mobile device and the message is automatically converted into text and sent to a screen of their choice – it’s that simple!

What do you think is the biggest single thing holding back more users from using this service?
SpinVox is still a relatively new phenomenon and already we have more than 10 million users. As people experience SpinVox, they tend to fall in love with it and become our greatest ambassadors…

What needs to happen to make apps like this accessed by everyone?
SpinVox is a service that is already available to anyone who visits our website. One that offers its users a convenient means of accessing their voicemails and communicating with others in a more meaningful way. While we have a lot of people that sign up to the service directly, carrier deals allow us to access a wider user base. The telecoms sector is highly competitive and those carriers that fail to improve their service offering by embracing such services will be left behind.

What do you think is the future of mobile applications?
SpinVox Voice Message Conversion System (VMCS)™ works by combining state-of-the-art speech technologies with human intelligence and learnings to make sure that voice messages are converted accurately and meaningfully into text before they are delivered as an SMS to your mobile, as an email to your PC or PDA or as a posting to your blog.
Eventually, we will widen this voice-to-content semantic ability to help people receiving messages find out more about the specific information within the message, eg location, names, times etc. This will save users from having to access another system separately to get the information they really need, eg by switching to their web browser, finding Google, typing in the keywords and then having to surf the results.
In the future, if someone calls you and says: “We’re meeting at Waxy O’Connor’s in Soho.” SpinVox will automatically give you the option to click on the name of the bar, and connect that to a map that shows you what Waxy O’Conner’s is and where it is in Soho.

Have you got anything else in the pipeline?
A lot of growth – new carrier deals and strategic relationship with some of the world’s leading communications and IT players and a series of new products that will keep driving the voice-to-content revolution.

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Thanks Daniel. I use SpinVox and really like it – it just takes the hassle out of my voicemail.


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