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移动应用

商业 - 科技

语音将成为下一个杀手级应用?

Michal Lev-Ram 2014年09月28日

语音已死?未必,尤其是如果语音通讯能够跟文字、图片和视频等功能融合的话。一名前微软高管据此理念推出了语音通讯应用Talko。

    
Talko移动应用。来源:Talko

    微软公司(Microsoft)前高管雷•奥兹有一个革命性的创意:让打电话再次变得“酷”起来。

    语音通讯似乎历来和“酷”字沾不上边,充其量只是一项必要的功能。很显然,在很大程度上,语音通讯已经被各种基于文字的实时通讯服务取代了,比如短信和近来大量涌现的移动通讯应用。但是奥兹认为,他找到了一种方法让传统的语音电话功能重新焕发青春。

    奥兹在一篇宣布他的新公司Talko正式成立的博文中称:“我认为声音中蕴含着无限的潜能,它可以传递语调和情感,可以快速解决问题、做出决定、处理事情。要想表达诸如紧急、焦虑、理解、信心或者信任之类的情绪,基本上没有其他方式比声音更快、更有效。当我们选择用说话来交流时,总会发生一些令人惊奇的事情。”

    奥兹想到的令语音通讯重新焕发青春的方法之一,是把语音与文字、图像等其它交流方法融合起来。Talko移动应用最近刚刚登陆苹果iOS平台,除了可以拨打电话、发送短消息之外,它还可以直接发送图片,而无需再打开另外一个应用。另外,用户还可以对通话做“书签”或者标记,它还能自动对通话进行录音,用于回放。用户还可以非常方便地借助这款应用的界面发起多人电话会议。用户只需借助手机通讯录就可以轻松地创建对话群,因此可以一次性向多人推送语音消息或发起多人进行实时对话。

    奥兹对《财富》(Fortune)表示:“它不会取代(电子邮件或短消息),但如果我们能增加语音通话的数量,我认为它会起到很大帮助。”

    这家公司是奥兹与另外两名联合创始人马特•蒲伯和埃里克•佩蒂共同创办的。他们已经从安德里森-霍洛维奇基金(Andreessen Horowitz)、格雷洛克合伙公司(Greylock Partners)、卡普尔资本(Kapor Capital)和奥兹本人那里拉来了投资。(不过该公司没有透露目前获得的融资额。)

    在职业生涯的早期阶段,奥兹曾是协作软件Lotus Notes公司的主要幕后功臣之一,这家公司后来被IBM收购。奥兹又于2005年将他创办的另一家公司Groove Networks卖给了微软,然后在微软工作了五年,2010年时从微软离职。最近,他又加入了惠普公司(Hewlett-Packard)董事会。

    虽然奥兹对科技行业有很深的理解,此前的成功也让他小有名声,但要想让语音通话再次流行起来,恐怕也不是容易的事。这家公司要想展翅高飞,它不光需要普通消费者捧场,还得受到企业用户青睐才行。目前Talko仍然是免费的,但该公司计划向那些想要无限期地存储通话的用户按月收取费用。(Talko的免费版只能将通话储存10天)。

    Talko并非唯一一家试图在这个领域赚钱的公司。另一个语音通讯开发平台Twilio允许企业用户构建自己的应用。该公司最近推出了一项新的功能,可以使用户轻松地将图片整合进通话中。

    语音貌似不大可能会强势回归。(你最近一次检查语音邮箱是什么时候?)但一旦与各种热门的现代化通讯手段结合在一起,它还是有很多潜能可以挖掘的。如果你能在打电话的时候(不论是私人电话还是工作电话)快速分享照片的话,为什么不这样做呢?

    奥兹表示,他计划近期继续在Talko中添加其它功能,比如文档或视频分享等。该公司还打算推出安卓版和网页版应用。

    不过有一个平台是Talko短期内不打算登陆的,那就是微软的Windows Phone系统。显然,离开微软之后,奥兹身上已经没有一丁点“微软情怀”了。(财富中文网)

    译者:朴成奎

    Ray Ozzie, the former Microsoft executive, has a revolutionary idea: Make phone calls cool again.

    It’s not clear that voice communication was ever cool. It was always more like a necessity. What is clear, however, is that it has been largely replaced by all sorts of real-time, text-based services, from SMS to the latest crop of mobile messaging apps. Ozzie thinks he’s found a way to revitalize the old-fashioned, voice-based phone call.

    “I passionately believe that there’s immense latent potential in voice to convey tone and emotion, to quickly resolve issues, to make decisions and to get things done,” he wrote in a blog post announcing the launch of his new company, Talko (sounds like “taco”). “There’s simply no faster and no more effective way to express essential emotions such as urgency, anxiety, understanding, confidence or trust. Quite simply, amazing things can happen when we just choose to talk.”

    One of the ways Ozzie hopes to make voice-based communication relevant again is by infusing it with other methods, including text and images. Talko’s mobile application, which recently launched on Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, lets people make ordinary phone calls, send text messages, and share photos without having to open a separate application. The app also allows users to bookmark and tag conversations, and automatically records calls for playback purposes. The app’s interface lends itself to conference calls. A user can easily create groups using their phone’s address book, and therefore push out voice messages or initiate live calls to more than one person at a time.

    “It won’t replace [email or messaging] but if we can increase the amount of talking I think it will help a lot,” Ozzie tells Fortune.

    The long-time entrepreneur founded the company with Matt Pope and Eric Patey. The trio has raised money from Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, Kapor Capital, and from Ozzie himself. (The company won’t disclose exactly how much it has raised to date.)

    Earlier in his career, Ozzie was one of the masterminds of Lotus Notes, the collaboration software that was eventually acquired by IBM . He later sold another company, Groove Networks, to Microsoft in 2005 and worked for the Redmond-based tech giant until he left in 2010. More recently, he joined the board of directors at Hewlett-Packard .

    Despite deep knowledge of the technology industry and previous successes to his name, it’s a tall order for Ozzie to bring voice back in vogue. If the company takes off, it’s going to need business customers to embrace the app, not just consumers. Today, Talko is free, but the company plans to charge a monthly subscription fee to users who want their calls saved indefinitely. (The free version of the app will only preserve conversations for a 10-day period.)

    Talko isn’t the only startup trying to make money in this category. Twilio, a development platform for voice communication, lets corporate customers create their own apps. That company recently launched a feature which lets users easily integrate images in its communications.

    Voice is unlikely to make a strong comeback. (When’s the last time you checked your voicemail?) But it may have untapped potential when bundled with more fast-growing modern means of communication. Why shouldn’t you be able to quickly share photos of your surroundings while on a personal or work call?

    Ozzie says he plans to integrate other functions—such as document or video sharing—into Talko’s calls in the near future. The company also plans to make the app available on Google’s Android mobile operating system as well as a web-based application.

    One place Talko won’t be available anytime soon? Microsoft’s mobile operating system, Windows Phone. Apparently, you can take the boy out of Microsoft and take the Microsoft out of the boy.

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