Slydial Users Pass 1 Million Messages; We Test New Slydial iPhone App, Which Isn’t Always So Sly

11/19/08Follow @wroush

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created the market opportunity for Slydial—there’s no other way to leave direct voice messages across networks.

Macomber says MobileSphere is considering several enhancements for the service, such as the ability to send a single voicemail to multiple recipients (the canonical example of group messaging: notifying everyone on your kid’s soccer team that the game has been canceled due to rain). The company is also in preliminary discussions with wireless companies about licensing white-label versions of the system that cellular subscribers could tap into directly through their operators.

“With these new mobile apps, we think voice messaging is going to take off the same way that SMS text messaging took off after the advent of phones with full QWERTY keyboards,” Macomber says. “It becomes much easier to send a text message when you don’t have to triple-tap but can crank out a message on a full keyboard. Similarly, with our apps you can instantly voice-message somebody.”

“The big question around here is, how big can voice messaging get? I don’t think it’s ever going to replace SMS or be as heavily used. But if people are sending 300 text messages a month today”—which is the average figure among cell-phone users, according to the CTIA wireless trade group—”they may well send 30 voice messages a month a few years down the road.” That’s lots of audio ads for MobileSphere to sell—and at rates well above those that online publishers get for Web ads.

Now if Apple would just add the Slydial app to the iTunes App Store. It’s becoming a familiar story: developers submit their finished apps to Apple, only to see them disappear into a seeming black hole. That’s the situation MobileSphere’s been in for several weeks, according to Macomber.

“It’s frustrating, but we’ve heard this has been happening to numerous companies,” says Macomber. “We got a very strong indication weeks ago” that the Slydial app was about to be published in the iTunes App Store, he says. “Then we were told for a couple of weeks straight that it was going to be published ‘any day now.’ It makes it tough when you’re trying to time a PR campaign around a new app.”

At least MobileSphere is in good company: No less a player than Google ran into the same problem last weekend. The company announced its upgraded voice-driven Google Mobile App for the iPhone to wide acclaim last Thursday, and users rushed to the App Store on Friday, only to find that Apple hadn’t replaced the old Google app with the new one. Same story on Saturday and Sunday. By Monday, some users were able to download the Google app, and it finally made its official appearance today.

Macomber says he’s optimistic that Slydial iPhone app will follow Google’s app into the App Store “any day now.”

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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