When I called a friend of mine, his voicemail recording went something like this: “Sorry I missed your call; please don’t leave a message. I never check my voicemail.” As if by kismet, just then I was standing on the corner trying to hail a cab when one zoomed past with “voicemailsucks.com” glowing from its top light.
That URL, as well as stopvoicemail.com, redirect to the Web site for SimulScribe, a service which has been around since 2006. It uses voice recognition technology to convert your voicemails to text and then sends the transcribed version along with the original audio to your mobile, PDA or e-mail account. “Well, how cool,” you say, but the service hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire — yet. According to David Gerzof, chief marketing officer for SimulScribe, the ads, which are cruising on about 300 taxicabs in New York City, are targeting “anyone who hates wasting time listening to voicemail and would rather read it.” So … that’s just about everyone who has eyes. And where are people more willing to spend money in order to save a little time than in New York City, home base of the early adopters? The Web site itself is disappointingly tech-y, and obviously designed by nerds, but the information is still accessible, though it’s a disappointment after the edgy come-on of the outdoor ads.
The “voicemailsucks” campaign, which launched in October, is an attempt at making new technology more appealing to the general masses, Because no matter how cutting-edge something is, if people don’t think it’s sexy or cool, they won’t buy it. And the service is certainly banking on them buying it: Gerzof projects SimulScribe’s 10,000 subscribers to grow to one million in the next year.