One-Stop Communications Shop

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2011-01-12 Print this article Print

VoxOx competes with companies such as Trillian (messaging), Skype (video), GoogleVoice/Gmail, eFax and YouSendIt (file transfer and storage). All of them at once, that is.

"There's all these companies out there that do little pieces of all this, but we've combined them all into one place. We're like a one-stop shop," CTO and co-founder Kevin Hertz told eWEEK.

In its previous version, VoxOx was designed to present a rich feature set, but it apparently didn't sit that well with early testers. Focus groups told the company that some features were hard to find and use and the experience wasn't as intuitive as they would have liked.

"So we completely redeveloped the entire experience of the product," Hertz said. "What we've come out with is a version that is simpler to use and much more intuitive." This is the version the company debuted last week at CES.

The new VoxOx has a fully redesigned UI, a sleeker look and feel, and a reorganization of existing functions. Some features have also moved from within the desktop software to a newly expanded online user portal and Web store.

Contacts are the key

VoxOx is organized by contacts (all a person's networks are merged into one contact, so as to avoid multiple instances). Its presence-enabled buddy list has a photo, a list of channels that can be used to contact the person, and a status notification to let the user know if he or she is available. (See screen shot included in this article.) It also has a smart button on the side that remembers the best way to contact a particular person.

And it has a search function, so that a user can just type in a name or a phone number to have the contact pop up in the window.

After locating the person to contact, it's simply a matter of the user choosing which channel to use, and then creating and sending the message.

"Presence is a big thing now, with all of these networks that people are members of," Hertz said. "Who wants to go to AOL and say, 'I'm available,' then to Facebook and say, 'I'm away'? We give you our universal control panel, where you can set yourself to 'away,' and you will just be 'away' on all networks at the same time."

You can also set your presence individually on various networks, if you want to do it that way, Hertz said. "You get complete control over how people contact you," he said.

Hertz said TelCentris has completed its iPhone and iPad versions and is currently going through the process of getting them into the Apple store. "We're also working on Android, too," Hertz said.

OK, how does VoxOx make a profit?

So how does the company make money? You can't give everything away.

"We charge, as a phone company does, for outgoing calls, faxes and text messages, at reasonable rates," Hertz said. "We also have a good revenue stream from services that we provide to other telephone companies, VOIP, Web services and so on. So it's a good business."

TelCentris has built its own cloud platform not only to power VoxOx but several other business services, such as hosted PBX for small businesses, VOIP and other hosted services for service providers.

"Today we actually power about a dozen phone companies around the world," Hertz told eWEEK.

Hertz said that the VoxOx beta program "will continue for a short while" before the product goes into general availability, which will likely be in several weeks.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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