Vlingo Sees Big Future in Searching Mobile Content and Enabling Functions On The Fly
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sending messages, writing on friends’ walls, and posting pictures to the list of tasks users will be able to execute by talking to the phone. And there’s more in store for those looking to use Virtual Assistant to be more efficient at work. Vlingo expects to roll out features that enable the app to book an appointment with a colleague on your calendar (by syncing with his or her phone and tracking down a date when you both are free), again, all on voice command.
Vlingo is also tackling the problem of texting while driving (prohibited in scores of states), with its “InCar” mode for Virtual Assistant. The company’s app has a feature called “Vlingo Answers,” which offers answers on encyclopedia-style questions, thanks to content provided by partners Ask.com and True Knowledge. [Updated on 2/09/11 at 9:40am: Sentence updated for clarity.]
To date, Vlingo has made money through licensing its technology and charging for more enhanced versions of its mobile app (except the Android version, where the product is completely free). But it’s just started making money off the search results themselves, through sponsored links on Google or sponsored listings that appear as a result of functions like restaurant searches. It also gets a slice of services booked from its app through OpenTable, Fandango, and Kayak. These partnerships won’t shut out other competitors in their respective spaces, either, Harris says. (There’s a precedent for this openness; Vlingo has powered voice search for Bing, Yahoo, and Google.)
And speaking of Google, the Internet giant also has a competing voice-command technology, known as Voice Actions, that enables Android users to speak and perform actions like texting, map viewing, Google searches, and calling businesses. But Vlingo hasn’t seen any resistance from Google on that front, Harris says.
“Generally I think they like the fact that we’re innovating on their platform,” he says.
The company is tapping into new markets by adding new languages to its speech-recognition engine, and looks to expand to other devices like tablets or connected TVs this year. In December, Vlingo reaped an average of $0.14 per user per month, and expects this will hit $1.14 per month by 2014. (It just started monetizing these actions about five months ago). It might sound small now, but based on Wall Street predictions that 1.8 billion mobile search devices will be in use by 2014, the future looks pretty bright for Vlingo.