Mobility News

Ray Ozzie Launches Talko In Bid To Reshape How Calls Are Made

Ramin Edmond

Former Microsoft Chief Software Architect and creator of Lotus Notes Ray Ozzie has been hard at work for the past few years on what he thinks will be the next big thing in mobile communication: reshaping phone calls.

His startup Talko offers a mobile app by the same name that could change the way people talk on the phone. The app launched Tuesday and is aimed at "revolutionizing the voice experience."

"The phone, not the PC, is at the center of how we now communicate -- although the ’phone call’ has become an increasingly rare occurrence," Ozzie said in a statement. "We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us. Our mission at Talko is to make communication human again. We want to shape communications tools that will increase both the value and the humanity of peoples’ interactions."

[Related: Microsoft Lays off 2,100 More Employees, Plans To Shut Silicon Valley Research Lab]

Users can start a conversation with a call, text, photo or voice message with Talko and seamlessly toggle through the other options without skipping a beat. Talko can hold conference calls with multiple people, recognizing the speaker in each message. Conversations and messages on Talko are archived for only those in the conversation to access and can be bookmarked, hash-tagged and searched for in archived conversations. Users can bookmark snippets of conversation audio and revisit them later.

While it has the ease of use and feel of a social media app, it is designed to reshape everyday phone conversations and change the game of conference calls.

"I'm not surprised at all to hear about Ozzie coming back with another platform. He's a serial creator. He can't help it," said Stephen Monteros, vice president of business development and strategic initiatives at SIGMAnet, an Ontario, Calif.-based solution provider and Microsoft partner that specializes in app development. "He's got a good track record, but [conference call platforms] is kind of a crowded space. Based on what is already out there and the number of small companies working on similar products, I would consider it an uphill climb, even though he has some name recognition."

The Talko platform is currently available on the iPhone, but the Boston-based company says it will expand to Android along with Windows- and Mac-based computers as it intends to make strides in the enterprise.

Next: Ray Ozzie Coming Up With The Next Big Thing

"First of all, Ray Ozzie, is a phenomenal software architect, so coming up with the next big thing is the right roll for him," said Patrick Moorhead, founder, president and principal research analyst at Moor Insights & Strategies. "I expect there to be ease of use, but what's different here is that it makes content archivable and also searchable. If you have a large meeting with executives taking notes, that could be prone [to] error or putting bias or spin into it. It raises pretty massive privacy questions too. Basically, an intelligent system should be able to tell who is talking and without getting permission from who is talking to be recorded, it would need to parse that person's content."

Moorhead said a platform like this could become very popular in business meetings, but in the day and age we live in with leaked emails and digital security breaches, a platform that archives conference calls like this could be dumped quite quickly.

"It is almost too good to be true but you have to start somewhere," he said. "This is absolutely a useful feature that people would be willing to pay for as long as it's accurate and they can manage the privacy. If [Talko] can't get privacy squared away, people will avoid it like the plague. It could ruin a conference call or conversation. Having said that, I could definitely see big or small company conference calls using this. It could be valuable."

Talko did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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