Voxeo Shakes Up Voice Response Business

by Bruce Stewart

Voxeo gave us a sneak preview of their new, very affordable IVR platform at ETel, and today the Prophecy product has been officially announced. There was quite a stir in the hallways at ETel about Prophecy, which allows small companies and developers to get their hands on high-quality voice response technology for far less than was previously possible. In fact, a two-port system is free! An upgrade to the four-port version costs $249, and additional ports are $549. Prophecy runs on Windows 2000, 2003, and XP, and Linux and Mac OS systems will be available later this year.

Prophecy is more than just a standard IVR though, it's being promoted as a complete telephony platform with features like call conferencing, call recording, SIP-based VoIP telephony support, a built-in soft-phone, an SQLite database engine, and a web server supporting PHP 5.1 and Java/JSP.

Voxeo has spent the past 4 years developing their own high-quality speech recognition and speech synthesis technology, which eliminated the need to incorporate the licensing fees for these kind of speech components that previous systems required, and allowed them to release this very low-cost IVR solution. If the talk around the hallways at ETel is any indication, this product release will really shake up the IVR landscape (and likely has some of the bigger IVR vendors sweating). If you've been wanting to get your hands on an affordable IVR platform to incorporate into your business or product, you should definitely check Prophecy out.


Brian McConnell
2006-01-31 14:20:56
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Prophecy is not the revolutionary product it may seem. It is a cheaper, but still outrageously expensive VoiceXML platform. At $549 per port, a medium size system (24 ports, or 1 T1), will still set you back $13,000, not including hardware. While this is cheaper than the $1000-2000 per port that Nuance charges, it is still expensive. Compare this to an Asterisk system, at a cost of $0. Granted Asterisk does not offer a really solid speech recognition option, but in most cases, you can get by without it.
Jonathan Taylor
2006-02-01 00:17:15
Brian, you're not making an apples to apples comparison though. Asterisk is a great technology, don't get me wrong. About a year ago I read through every line of code in Asterisk, and we've talked with Mark and the other folks at Digium about selling Asterisk and Digium-card based solutions as part of our product line.

Compared to any similar platform - ie, standards-based (VoiceXML and CCXML), speech enabled (ASR and TTS), commercially supported (24x7x365 support) platform, Prophecy is 1/5th the cost of anything else.

You can argue that for some companies and some applications these capabilities are not required, and you would be right. However, many companies do require these things, and many projects benefit from them.

Voxeo was started on a whiteboard with three words at the top: "Computer Telephony Sucks". I felt that way 7 years ago, and I still feel that way now. We won't stop breaking the status quo in telephony into *everyone* can easily create and deploy telephony applications; and neither Asterisk or Prophecy are there yet. At best, we've all delivered maybe one third of what we need in order to achieve that. Both Prophecy and Asterisk are big leaps forward in my opinion, but in different directions and for differing needs.

And the new boss is not the same as the old boss. I'm pretty sure the old boss doesn't own a single O'Reilly Book.

-Jonathan Taylor, Boss (and CEO) of Voxeo