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BeVocal Announces 'Total Messaging Solution'

BeVocal is pushing hard to extend its services beyond driving directions and weather reports.

One of several companies competing in the "voice portal" market, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company has been offering what have become the staple of voice services since its launch in early 2000 (aside from navigational and meteorological, services include voice-automated stocks, news headlines, a business finder, etc.).

This week the company delved forcefully into the messaging arena with the introduction of five new voice applications it plans to push towards telecom carriers and other businesses.

The new "BeVocal Total Messaging Solution" includes the BeVocal Voice Dialer, BeVocal E-Mail, BeVocal Address Book, BeVocal Notification and BeVocal Voice Authentication.

As its name implies, Voice Dialer enables users to place calls simply by speaking a person's name or phone number, while E-Mail enables them to listen to, delete and respond to email messages over the phone. BeVocal Address Book taps into both programs with storage and retrieval capability of up to 500 contact listings over the phone, and synchronizes with personal information managers such as Microsoft Outlook and Palm Organizer.

BeVocal Notification enables users to specify and schedule automatic alerts for time-sensitive information, while the Voice Authentication service wraps the whole bundle in a secure package through the use of voiceprints to verify the identity of a caller

"Messaging applications are the next generation of voice services that carriers and businesses want to deploy for their customers," explained Mikael Berner, co-founder & CEO of BeVocal. "BeVocal's platform supports the seamless integration of messaging applications with voice portal applications, enabling, for example, a business traveler to receive a voice alert when his flight is delayed or a mobile employee to securely access email while on the road."

Berner believes that integrated, value-added services like the aforementioned can help carriers attract and retain customers, a view supported by a number of analysts in the sector.

"Advanced features evolution will not occur as a one-time 'forklift upgrade,' but as a set of integrated features that can be turned on at the carrier's discretion," said Mark Plakias, senior VP, Communications & Infrastructure at The Kelsey Group. "The importance of BeVocal's approach comes from integrating personal content such as address books, public content from the portal application, and personal productivity tools, with messaging. We see convergence of portal applications with messaging as the single most important trend in the next 12 months."

Qwest Communications International seems to agree. The company has already signed on to use some components of the new package, having selected both the Voice Dialer and Address Book applications for its wireless customers, which it intends to launch throughout its entire coverage area beginning Friday, March 23.