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Tellme, MagicPhone Merge in Voice App Union

Mountain View, Calif.-based Tellme Networks and Belgium- based MagicPhone have merged in a global voice application network union that marries a users phone call experience to the Internet.

The marriage of the two companies is intended to attract a client base that desires voice applications, including personalized voice dialing, stock trading, airline reservations, and general information services in both the U.S. and Europe.

Tellme touts a service that can help global businesses slash the high costs of placing calls abroad as well the ability to rapidly automate an existing call center service. For example, airlines can answer their phones with a voice application that automates flight reservations and baggage claim.

"When you have a trillion dollar industry like telecommunications undergoing the kind of disruption and change we see today, the opportunities that emerge are vast," said Mike McCue, CEO of Tellme. "MagicPhone is a perfect addition to Tellme because we share the same vision of what the phone can eventually become worldwide."

As a result of the merger, MagicPhone said it would tap into a new opportunity to use the Internet as the basis for a pan-European network of interactive telephony applications.

Luc Deleu, co-CEO of MagicPhone, said "Tellme's resources and experience will let us quickly extend our European customer base while offering them world class speech recognition services and the ability to make their voice applications available in the U.S."

The merger also supplies Tellme with more than 65 customers worldwide from industries such as travel, financial, media, and telecommunications.

The company employs 239 people worldwide, with network operations in 8 countries including the U.S., Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.

Luc Deleu and Alexandre Saboundjian will jointly manage all of Tellme's European operations and will maintain European headquarters in Brussels. Tellme will operate in Europe as "MagicPhone, a Tellme company."

On March 21, 2001 Tellme announced it had signed a letter of intent with AT&T to provide AT&T Wireless customers access to voice applications ranging from weather updates, traffic reports, stock quotes, and sports scores to taxi services and airlines.

Tellme's voice application network, would give AT&T Wireless customers direct, short-cut access to Internet-based content and services by speaking instead of "clicking."

These voice services are expected to be available later this year. The agreement also includes plans to explore the provisioning of more advanced voice communication and messaging applications for AT&T Wireless customers.