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The Voice-Enabled Web Gets Its Groove On

BY MARC ROBINS

 

In my January column, All Together Now: The Embedding of Real-Time Communications, I maintained that the time was ripe for new applications and services that would telephony-enable the plethora of Web sites on the Net especially community and social-networking sites like Myspace and its ilk and that, in essence, we were on the cusp of a golden age of Web telephony. Since then, a number of new products and services, from both new and familiar names, have come on the scene that promise to make this dream a reality.

Skype (news - alerts), no stranger to the headlines, recently announced SkypeWeb, a Web presence feature that integrates Skype seamlessly into any Web site and allows people to see Skype users online status and call or chat with them from any Web site as well as ring any phone from any site with the simple click of a mouse. With SkypeWeb, Web administrators can easily enable all site visitors to talk for free over the Internet.

With SkypeWeb, users can easily make their Skype status available on the Web simply by opting in using Skypes tools menu, then creating their own presence button by copying and pasting a few lines of HTML and script from skype.com/share/buttons/.

In fact, SkypeWeb is already integrated into more than 50 Web sites in 20 countries around the world. Salesforce.com, a leader in on-demand CRM, has made SkypeWeb available on its AppExchange platform, enabling customers to deploy it directly within their salesforce.com implementation. In addition to free Skype voice calls, the SkypeWeb presence feature gives salesforce.com subscribers the ability to know when their contacts and colleagues are available and online all directly from the salesforce.com site.

Other SkypeWeb adopters include Bebo, the largest social networking site in the U.K. and Ireland, which has integrated SkypeWeb to enable all Beboers to IM, talk, and video chat. DBA.DK (Den Bl Avis), the number one Danish classifieds portal, is using SkypeWeb to show the Skype status of people who have posted classified ads. Lunarstorm, a Swedish/British community Web site, is integrating SkypeWeb to allow users to display their Skype name and status in profiles. Onet.plb, Polands leading Internet portal, offers SkypeWeb to enable more than a million bloggers and Webmasters to show their status. And TOM.com is using SkypeWeb in its customer service offering to display Skype user presence information for its customer service representatives.

Another exciting new addition to the Web telephony arena is from Voice Commerce Group (www.voice-commerce.com), a New Jersey-based company founded by WorldPay founder and Voice Commerce Groups president Nick Ogden. Voice Commerces new Whitephone (www.whitephone.com) is billed as the worlds first fully brandable voice integrated browser, and enables any online business to create a fully branded VoIP service that offers voice, text and video communications for customers as well as sophisticated revenue generation opportunities through the latest broadcasting and click-to-talk technologies.




The Whitephone is designed to wrap around any existing Web site, and provides a white label voice-enabled browser with feature-rich communications functionalities, including CastAlive for broadcasting text, audio, and video to opt in groups, and click to talk functionality to allow end users to click to call a sales representative directly before they buy, for example.

The goal for Voice Commerce Group and Whitephone is to provide local and national media groups, Internet portals, special interest groups, consumer brands, educational portals, and e-businesses with the tools to deploy their own branded integrated communications portal. With an offer like Whitephone, these companies will be able to market new forms of advertising including click to talk and video broadcasts (using CastAlive).

According to Nick, Our aim at Voice Commerce is to provide the tools that help build advanced e-businesses by incorporating voice into the browser and into existing Web content. We want to turn the Internet into a completely natural communication environment that not only creates a richer Web experience for end users, but also provides the tools for brands to market to potential customers in a sophisticated and personalized manner.

He adds that, Voice enablement is the most significant growth opportunity on the Internet, and voice commerce is set to transform our e-commerce experiences and change the way the Internet is used for communication, advertising, information search, and retrieval.

To that, I say, Amen. IT

Marc Robins is Chief Evangelism Officer of Robins Consulting Group, which offers an array of services to the IP telephony industry. He has been involved in the telecommunications industry as a reporter and analyst, trade show producer and publisher, and marketing executive and consultant for more than 24 years. For more information, call RCG at 718-548-7245 or e-mail robinsconsult@optonline.net.

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