I attended a Telstra breakfast function this morning with an entertaining speaker whose name I don’t think I could pronounce but ended in “poff” leading some of us to call him the Telstra answer to David Hasslehoff.
I was interested in the view put forward – which has previously been observed in Japan – that mobile tech is becoming so sophisticated that the so-called “Generation Y” are using it for all their social networking needs and becoming less au fait with actual computers.
Telstra are working to deliver more actual applications through mobile telephony rather than just providing the cabling and network and infrastructure over which applications are made by someone else.
Some of the items shown today were IP telephony from the telephone exchange which while now available for business will become the residential phone platform in time.
Another was adding on speech to text processing in voicemail. This is brilliant yet so simple. Actually, I long ago determined I hate checking voicemail. I remember driving through regional Australia with mobile phone reception fading and coming back as I drove out of and back into towns. My phone would beep to say I had messages from calls I missed while I had no reception. Yet these towns were so small, I’d call 101 and before the first message could begin playing I’d gone out the other side and lost reception again.
Happily, the rise of BlackBerry made this so much better provided people used e-mail – which is, I’ll admit, my favoured form of communication. Sometimes if a message was complex or I was on the road or the caller didn’t speak very clearly I’d have to listen to voicemails several times. I switched to a memo service where my missed calls divert to a human operator who takes a message and sends me an SMS. This was a huge boon. I never since have had to call voicemail and I can respond to urgent matters when I am in a meeting or any other time where I am not able to dial voicemail but can read a message. However, as much as I love the message service, I find a lot of people telling me they’re not comfortable with talking to a human like that! That strikes me as somewhat humorous, given the fact they’ve called me means they prefer voice to e-mail communication anyway. Nevertheless, I tried out the speech to text service on two people and it’s just brilliant. The callers have no idea anything is different; the experience of depositing a voicemail is unchanged. Yet these staff members now receive their messages via text (with the voice message still available for review) but precisely as was said by the caller. It’s not stilted or formal or brief like when leaving a message with an answering service; it’s friendly and natural. The texts would faithfully reproduce “G’day”, “gimme” and the like. The parsing was so good in each test that it made me wonder if a village of Indians had been hired to sit in a room and transcribe rather it genuinely being automated. I’m really thinking of changing from my answering service back to voicemail!
There were other things announced, one being the intention to take NextG speeds up to 40mb/s within a mere couple of years. This is tremendous, with NextG being increasingly essential to performing business anytime, anywhere. I certainly know that armed with my laptop and BlackBerry and NextG modem I can manage my whole infrastructure no matter where I am.
Which takes me back to the beginning – I think mobile devices are great, they give me a lot of functionality and connectivity – but to me this connectivity backs up and enables my laptop and computing applications. I couldn’t use my mobile phone as my one and only device.
What about you? Do you think mobiles are the future of personal computing?