Jott, a convenient voice-to-text service

Jott rocks.

Jott, a company based in Seattle, offers a convenient new service that lets you speak messages and send them to yourself or others — as a transcribed text message.

Or as a voice message, if you prefer.

Sign up at Jott.com takes a minute, with no hassle. Then all you do is call Jott’s number, 1-877-568-8486. Jott asks who you are sending the message to. You tell Jott (the name of your friend will be contained in the contacts you’ve imported), and then record a message, and hang up. It ends up in their inbox, translated into text. Or you can choose to send voice message instead, by immediately pressing a “1”. The message then shows up as an audio file in their email.

This is a really easy and useful service, and we may be hooked. Here’s the intriguing part: Jott sends your messages to India for transcription. There, cheaply paid workers are listening to your voice message, and typing down the text in an email, which they then shoot off to the recipient. It took us about five minutes to receive our transcribed message tests — and they were perfectly done. A new meaning of the phrase “Passage to India.”

This is perfect for those professional messages you want to send to people, say while driving in your car. You don’t want to bug someone with a phone call, but texting or emailing someone is hard to do • steering with your knees isn’t very safe.

Jott more convenient than Spinvox and Simulscribe. Spinvox is great for people who get power voicemail. It transcribes incoming voicemail, and sends them to your inbox in written form. But we couldn’t get Spinvox to recognize our phone number during the registration process, and besides, it isn’t free. Simulscribe also isn’t free. It asks for more info than Jott during the sign up, and gives you a week’s free trial, but then forces you to cancel if you don’t want to get billed.


Pinger
, another service that lets you leave voice messages for people, doesn’t do voice-to-text.

There was a bug in Jott. The contact import process didn’t work for us. Presumably, they’ll fix this soon. It worked when we manually entered our addresses.

So how does the business model work, if Jott pays Indians to subscribe, but offering the service for free? Jott founder and chief executive John Pollard tells VentureBeat he wanted to see how people reacted to the product before charging. Jott plans to support a free version with advertising. They’ll charge for a premium version, for those want to avoid ads.

Our hope is, this isn’t too good to be true. If it stays free, we’ll keep using it, and it may become part of our daily workflow.

The company raised less than $1 million from Draper Richards, Seattle firm Ackerley Partners in Seattle and Skype founder Ziklas Zennstrom’s investment group, Atomico in London.