As a technology journalist, I like to think that there isn't anything that could pass so far under my radar that the first time I hear of it is on BBC2s Newsnight program. However, that's exactly what happened on Tuesday night, much to my chagrin.
A company called SpinVox was being showcased as the latest technology startup tipped to hit the big time. A full half hour long segment was dedicated to the company, its products, its history and its future of world dominance. And, you could tell the tip off was probably right because the company building had no less than a ping-pong table in the garden and chairs hanging from the ceiling - I kid you not. Now that's some serious outside the box thinking that's going to guarantee success! Either that or it's pretentious, circa '98, dotcom-bust era, silliness. I'll let you decide.
So, what does SpinVox do?
Well, the company's entire product/service range is based on one key technology that in and of itself is nothing new - the ability to convert spoken word into text. What Christina Domecq, the company's founder and CEO, did was see a lucrative marketable application of the technology. By using this technology to convert voicemail messages into text, the company offers a number of services that make our fast paced lives that little bit easier to manage.
The primary service, called SpinmyVmail, converts voicemail messages from other people into an email that is then sent onto you. This makes it so much easier to see what the person wanted at a glance rather than having to call up your voicemail service and listen to the caller ramble on. If you have a blackberry it also enables you to read your voicemail messages while you're still taking the call that is blocking other people from contacting you - yes the service really is that quick. This is the most universally useful service that the company offers and is likely to be where the big money is made but the company also has a few other more niche services.
SpinmyBlog enables you to call a number and record a spoken blog post which is then converted and posted for you. Along the same lines, SpinmyMemo is a personal spoken memo service that sends the memo back to you as a text message. Finally, SpinmyBroadcast is a service for recording a message that is converted to text and then broadcast to groups of your friends or colleagues as an SMS.
At this point I'm sure many of you are rolling your eyeballs while mocking me for being completely out of the loop, after all, like Sandra you heard of this ages ago, right? Well, I'll be the first to admit I'm not the quickest at keeping up-to-date with the mobile sector. It's not the stuff I review and my phone is used for little more than calling and texting and if I can't reach someone by voice I text them rather than leave a message because it's cheaper and easier to convey important information. Also, it's generally only in the run-up to renewing my contract that I think about what new phone I'll get and what new features I may want.
Excuses aside, though, I probably should've known about SpinVox by now and this is what intrigued me. Why has a company that's been established for nearly three years, that has such a great product and is in such a fast moving sector, only just started to creep into the general public's consciousness. I would have thought these technologies would all be ubiquitous be now and offered at only a nominal fee over standard services, if not for free. However, with less than 150,000 users signed up to the service, it would appear this is far from the case.