100 Mobile Product Ideas...#8...
I have a separate landline for my home number, one for business and then my cable modem. My landline has an answering machine, but it has two major problems. First, it has very little memory. Second, if we're out, then we don't know that we have a message.
Obviously, we have mobile phones and there are all kinds of solutions to tackle this problem. I am interested in software answering machines ("google it"). There are plenty on the market. They are not new.
They use the hard-disk for storage, so memory is not a problem. Many of them also include notification, although this is where we can improve matters a little.
Notification options can include text messaging and email. Either is potentially fine for me, as I use a Blackberry as my main mobile device. Preferably, I want to know who the call is from, not just the caller's number. This is where matters get a bit sticky.
We could keep an address book on the PC, in order to allow the numbers to be translated to names. This immediately gives us a synchronisation problem. Ideally, I want my numbers on my mobile and on the PC to be the same. There is nothing new about this problem and there are myriad synchronisation solutions available, especially with technologies like SyncML proliferating. Also, we could use a MIDlet on some MIDP2.0 phones to achieve synchronisation.
Ideally, I would like a completely networked answering machine. The voicemail service should be entirely web-based and accessible from anywhere on the net and from any mobile device. I want to be able to view a list of missed calls and voicemails. I can play the messages from a PC or mobile device. I should be notified of voicemails via a push message that enables me to jump straight to the voicemail and hear it immediately.
To summarise, the mobile product features are:
1. Software-based answering machine for fixed line
2. Voicemails and missed calls stored on the web, accessible from PC or mobile
3. Notifications of voicemails/missed calls via text or email
4. Notifications include caller names, not numbers
5. Name/number store is also web-based and synchronises with my mobile (or any other e.g. wife)
6. Black-box solution is preferable for the answering device itself, as I'd rather not mess around with modems and PCs. The box has a phone jack and comes in ethernet or WiFi flavours. An indicator LED is fine, but otherwise zero interface - everything is accessed via a net interface, in the PC or mobile browser.
If you already know of such a device, please let me know.
Eventually, telecom providers like BT will get around to providing this kind of service anyway and we wont ever have to bother with answering machines at all. It's especially good for fixed-line companies who also offer mobile services, as they could presumably drive more calls to the mobile.
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