The Montreal Gazette, Canada.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006.
3,500 sign on First level of service is free.
A small South Shore telecommunications company has developed what it claims to be the world's first audio mobile email service.
Boucherville-based Telmatik Inc. has introduced Bluffmail, which allows people to send audio emails anywhere free of charge by telephone rather than computer.
"Bluffmail is a revolution in the world of telecommunications because it allows you to send email without the trouble and time it takes to write one, especially through text messaging," said Telmatik spokesperson Jean-Marc Desnoyers. "It is tailor-made for people constantly on the move (like real-estate agents or service providers) or for people who prefer to talk rather than key."
"It really is an ingenious idea," Jeff Leiper, Canadian telecommunications marketplace strategies analyst, said yesterday.
But Leiper, director of The Yankee Group's Canadian office near Ottawa, has one main question about the new application: "How are people going to use this? Why not just leave a voice mail?"
He pointed out Bluffmail appears to be a variant of Voice over Internet Protocol and digital voice systems already in use.
"Our research has found that people are best reached by instant messaging or email rather than by phone or voicemail and that continues to go up every year," Leiper added. "I predict people will find innovative uses for this as a productivity tool."
Bluffmail's big advantage over voice mail is that it allows users to send the same message to up to five recipients at a time.
Within two months, the capability will be increased to groups of eight.
Desnoyers stressed the new service, launched last month, saves time and money.
"In less than one minute, you can send a vocal email delivered as fast as a traditional email and long-distance charges don't apply for calls made in North America because Bluffmail is an email service," he explained.
Service will be extended to the rest of the world by the end of the summer, Desnoyers said.
"On average, in 60 seconds, you can communicate five times more information verbally than by typing on a keyboard," he added. "We determined that people type about 30 words a minute, while 150 words can be spoken during the same time."
It will also make life easier for the visually impaired, Desnoyers said.
"I think their enthusiasm is getting a bit ahead of them,"
Geoff Fitzgibbon, national director of the CNIB access technology program, told The Gazette yesterday from the group's headquarters in Toronto.
"We don't endorse products or services, but we are always very pleased when people bring out products for those with vision loss - especially mainstream technology that also works for the people we serve, using universal design rather than specially designed technology, which keeps costs down," he said.
Simply through word of mouth and Internet blogs, Desnoyers said Bluffmail has already registered 3,500 users since quietly launching the service in February.
The basic service, which allows users to send a maximum of 15 30-second Bluffmails a month without other restrictions, will remain free. The second plan allows 100 one-minute messages for $7 a month and the third plan is for unlimited 120-second-long messages at $18.95 monthly.
"If only four per cent of our members take either of the pay packages, we'll break even," Desnoyers said.
"I would take them at their word on that because bandwith and storage costs have come down to make this service very inexpensive (to offer)," Leiper pointed out.
Desnoyers says Bluffmail has immense potential, and Leiper agrees: "The potential for that innovation is huge," he said.
All computers with applications for listening to audio files like MP3s can listen to Bluffmails sent by landline or cellphone.
To register, call toll-free at (866) 362-4023 or visit
End of article.
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