CallWave Goes Premium, Moves to Mac

Facing competition from speech-to-text (STT) providers like SpinVox, CallWave upped the ante on its service offerings this Monday when it launched three new subscription service plans and released a version of its virtual voicemail client for Apple's iPhone and Mac computers running on the new OS X Tiger or Leopard operating systems.

The new premium plans are being targeted to professionals in the hope that mobile- and email-centric businesspeople will find the ability to keep up to date with their messages via mobile device or PC useful. The subscription's three names also indicate the company's targeted user base: CallWave Mobile PRO, CallWave Mobile EXEC, and CallWave Mobile BUSINESS. Though geared mostly toward business users, the application will also integrate personal and home voicemail messages into professional CallWave plans. The company's mobile Vtxt service had been available for free until now. New users will still be able to try the system for free during a 30-day trial period, but all current CallWave beta users will be notified at a later date that they can either stop the service, or upgrade to a premium plan.

In addition to the company's proprietary Vtxt service, which provides a written summary of voicemail messages, the new packages will offer real-time mobile call screening and a message portal/content locker for mobile applications. Messages converted to text in the content locker can be saved for an indefinite amount of time, and may be forwarded to others via email. Users can also respond to messages via SMS, email, or make a phone call on a VoIP line. CallWave's speech scientist Anthony Bladon says the company's offerings are based on three core foundations: summarization, a voicemail context model, and artificial intelligence.

"We think it's the world's only and first summarization product, and it's particularly well-suited for an email subject line and an SMS message," Bladon states. "We make user abbreviations, we do semantic compression, and we also do key phrase capture."

Through the service, text transcripts of voicemails are sent to a user's email inbox, as are faxes, call lists, and contacts. The unified approach extends past these traditional services, and includes the ability to screen calls via mobile device or computer. When a call is placed to a mobile device, the user can see incoming messages on his phone or PC screen, and choose whether to pick up the call or let the message go to voicemail.

The application for Mac OS X also includes a special component that can reside in the computer's on-screen dock, sync with the Mac Address Book, or appear as a widget that gives visual notification when a new message arrives.

While SpinVox recently landed a major STT deal with mobile provider Alltell, CallWave's subscription services should indicate the company's attempts to further penetrate the business community, offering an STT service with the appeal of a unified communications foundation. Bladon notes that CallWave is thinking about offering its services through a major mobile provider, but is most focused on developing its own services.

"Certainly [working with a telephony company] a possibility for us, but CallWave is alreadya phone company, and our primary goal is to develop this suite of services for the  business professional; that does much more than add a single bell and whistle to a telco voicemail product," he explains. "It's within our sights, but it's not our main market."

CallWave's confidence in its product extends past technology, Bladon claims, to its pricing model.

"Our package would stand up to SpinVox on its own," he says. "Their simple point feature will cost you more than a CallWave mobile package."

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