Jott, a popular voice-to-text web service, has announced that they are putting an end to the free edition of their service effective February 2, 2009. The company cited a downturn in the web advertising market as the reason for ceasing the free version of the Jott service.
Using the Power of Voice
The Seattle-based web company Jott was founded by ex-Microsoft employees and started out primarily as a voice-to-text messaging service. Using Jott, you would dial a phone number and leave a voice message. Your message could then be sent to recipients you choose as either an audio file of the original message or as a transcribed e-mail or SMS message. Users then began using Jott as a tool to send themselves reminders while on the go.
After building the original service, Jott built software packages that enhance the service. These add-ons included Jott for Outlook -- a way to easily create tasks, calendar appointments and draft e-mails via a phone call. Jott for Outlook users can also sync their Outlook address book with Jott to eliminate the need for multiple address book maintenance. Following on the success of Jott for Outlook, the company released an iPhone application and an Adobe AIR application to extend the service.
The voice recognition in Jott is better than average, but the company employs offshore humans to help clean up messages when the voice-to-text software fails. There are other services that operate voice-to-text services, including SpinVox, PhoneTag and GotVoice. Some competitors aren't as fully featured as Jott, but these competitors serve different markets.
End of the Free Era?
Does Jott dropping the free model mean anything for other web services? We don't think so. The paid model just reflects the weakness right now in the web advertising market. Also, with Jott being only US$ 4.00 per month, if a user really likes the service and gains benefit from them, they are likely to convert to a paid account.