A Silicon Valley startup is promising to end frustrating "engaged" tones by giving users an additional phone number when they are on the Web.
The three month old company, Buzme.com, will give users an additional phone number that people can call when their line is tied up by the modem. A message will appear on the screen alerting users that someone is trying to reach them. The user can then reply with a speech-synthesised message, send the call to voice mail, or forward it to another number.
According to the company, the "follow me" phone number can find users whenever they are online. The basic service is free and the company plans to provide a Pro version which may add offline unified messaging features as well.
Buzme.com has just secured its first round of financing. The funding worth around $1 million was led by venture partners who were joined by several notable angel investors and company management.
Rick Rasmussen, Buzme.com president and chief executive, said the company's combination of interfaces, the latest features and infrastructure have been designed to provide services that are scalable to support users worldwide. "We will open a new era in personal communications by leveraging the latest advances in Internet and conventional communications technologies," he said.
Earlier this year, Onebox.com, launched a similar messaging service, which provides Web surfers with a local telephone number and email address so they can receive emails, voice messages and faxes online. The technology can convert messages left over the telephone into email attachments and translate the headers of email messages into voice so they can be retrieved by telephone.
The service, which is also free, will generate revenues through advertising and revenue sharing deals with partner sites, as well as the introduction of higher level features for a fee.
Both companies extend what the telephone companies already offer, a variety of unified messaging products over the phone lines, but usually with large fees. A new study from Killen & Associates, concludes that long-established "blue chip" companies have a leg up on Internet startups in the race to develop ecommerce. "The long established utilities, telephone companies and financial services companies already have the perpetual attention of the client via the monthly bill," said Michael Killen, president of the research firm.
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