Thanks to the constant advance of communications technology, there are now more ways than ever to reach the people you know. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that life’s more convenient. Checking every account for new messages can be tedious and time consuming, and nowadays many people have multiple telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, and instant-messaging accounts–even several social-networking identities. TelCentris, a company based in San Diego, hopes to untangle this mess by providing VoxOx, a single piece of software that can be used to communicate with contacts in a wide variety of ways.
Unifying communications tools is hardly a new idea. Over the years, several popular instant-messaging clients have been developed to let users from one network chat with those from others. And as cell-phone use has grown, companies like Grand Central (now owned by Google) and Ribbit (now owned by BT) have focused on bringing together multiple phone numbers. The idea has proved especially popular in the business world, with companies such as IBM building products that combine a variety of communications tools–voice mail, IM, Web conferencing–with business applications like Lotus Notes.
VoxOx continues this trend but offers a more exhaustive list of services. It allows users to send e-mail and instant messages, send text messages, host video conferences, make phone calls, post messages to social networks, and even share files–all from the same place.
Rebecca Swensen, a research analyst with IDC, says that the product is interesting and ambitious. She cautions that “they’re still working out the kinks in terms of how to make it easy to use.” Swensen also questions whether consumers will be willing to put in the effort required to configure a service like this. Although ultimately, the service might make one’s life a little easier, she says, it’s a fairly big commitment to start using a new service, and to get all contacts loaded in and sorted out.
Michael Faught, chief financial officer with VoxOx, says that the service is, initially at least, aimed at younger users who “are confronted with this chaotic world of many kinds of communication tools.” Faught sees social networks as compounding the problem and says that there’s no simple, efficient solution.