Longtime technology guru Ray Ozzie wants to bring back the emotions of the human voice to phones.
Ozzie, 58, Microsoft's former chief software architect, hopes to orchestrate voice's comeback through Talko, a mobile application released yesterday for the iPhone. A version for Android phones is expected in a few months.
Talko sends the equivalent of text messages in the form of a spoken word. Talko users can record a voice message and send it over the internet to anyone else with the app. Recipients listen to the recording when it's convenient.
All messages will be stored for 10 days, though users can buy a subscription - expected to be $5 to $9 a month - to permanently store messages. For the first few months, Talko will store voice recordings for free.
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Users can choose to make their recordings available to more than one person, a feature Ozzie believes will make Talko ideal for employees working in the same department.
Talko turned out to be valuable in the five days leading up to the launch of a DigitalGlobe satellite last month, Ed Locher, DigitalGlobe's senior vice-president of corporate marketing, said. "It reminded me of a walkie talkie," he said. "It was much faster than texting or trying to set up a conference call."
The 11-employee startup behind Talko is funded by Ozzie's personal fortune and investments from venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and Greylock Partners.