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Apple’s built-in voicemail app gets raves for allowing users to pick and choose messages from a list, like email rather than being forced to listen to them in order like a 1980’s tape-cassette answering machine. But there are extra steps still to be taken to make voicemail as powerful as email.

YouMail‘s free iPhone app is, business-wise, a loss leader for the company’s transcription service, a subscription that starts at $3.99 a month. The app ties into YouMail’s Web-based service, which allows users to manage their voicemail from a browser.

I caught YouMail CEO Alex Quilici on the phone Tuesday. A few minutes after we got off the phone, he sent me a transcription of our talk. Clever.

Q: How is YouMail different from what iPhone offers?

A: With iPhone, the basic idea is that you can see who calls and pick what voicemail you play and in what order. YouMail has provided users with the ability to unlock voicemail and give you more choice – play or read it, have transcription embedded in app – very useful in meeting, etc.

Q: Is transcription a paid feature?

A: Yes. If you want to be able to read your voicemail, transcription is a premium service.

Q: What are the biggest differentiators between YouMail’s app and what iPhone offers:

A: Three big differentiators:

Transcription. We offer users the ability to read their voicemails.

Forward your voicemail to anyone. We’ve unlocked voicemail so you can forward it to anyone you want – you can click forward and it generates a URL for voicemail that you can email, post or do whatever – completely unlocked from carrier – do whatever you want with the voicemail.

Status greetings. With one click, you can change your greeting to let callers know you are in a meeting, on a plane or out surfing. Select your own personal recorded greeting or select from YouMail’s massive library of pre-recorded greetings.

Finally, it’s important to note that YouMail’s Visual Voicemail Plus app is a small part of the YouMail desktop online service. If you are at your PC, you can pick up a voicemail and surf for greetings on the computer. The app is simply a convenient entry point for the other functionalities. Standard iPhone voicemail does not offer this.

Q: Give me idea of pricing:

A: The basic YouMail app is free and YouMail lets you store 100 voicemail’s, which is perfect for most people. The transcription services start as low as $3.99/month, which gives you up to 50 transcribed voicemails /month. YouMail transcribes the first 10 seconds of the voicemail, which is the most critical. There are different plans that range from 9.99/month to $27.99/month which provides unlimited, full-length, high-quality voicemail transcriptions.

Q: Who do you consider your competitors?

A: Other companies that provide transcription offerings or voicemail.

Q: What about Skydeck? How are you different?

YouMail is focused on providing the best possible voicemail experience. We’re not interested in other things like low cost phone calls or texts. Everyone gets voicemail and we can make people like it.

Q: What about multiple phones? Does YouMail provide support for multiple numbers?

A: We do. We started off as a replacement voicemail mail box – a lot of people asked to forward work and landline or multiple lines into YouMail. We do this, though it’s more of an added value for a small portion of our users. The mobile phone is most people’s primary communication device.

Q: Can you tell me more about forwarding a voicemail?

A: When forwarding a voicemail, it automatically generates a web link that you can send to anyone. There is no password, it just plays. It’s a link to a page with an embedded payer, and it automatically plays – no attachments, nothing else required.


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