BOSTON - What if: You're at work and your child's school calls your home to tell you that you forgot to send in the signed permission slip for a class field trip. How nice to have a message pop up on your office computer or your wireless phone that the school called; then, on your computer, be able to play with a single click the voice message leaving the school fax number. Or, what if: You're at home, on the phone with a neighbor. A pop-up on your computer screen says your doctor's office is calling. How easy to click on the notice and take the call or instantly forward it to your wireless handset.
It's not fantasy any more; it's reality.
Verizon's first-of-its-kind multimedia tool for helping people manage their lives, iobism Home, debuts in New England today. Powered by a link between the Internet, the public telephone network and the personal computer, iobi Home (pronounced eye-OH'-bee) gives "point-and-click" control over home phone calls, home voice mail, call lists, directories and calendars. Iobi home includes e-mail and SMS text-messaging, and it can even pull up a map of where a new call is coming from.
Verizon is announcing iobi Home today at a Webcast news conference and demonstration.
"Today is the day everything changes for people who want and need to be as connected as possible -- by telephone, wireless, e-mail, text-messaging, voice mail and the Internet," said Bob Ingalls, president of Verizon's Retail Markets Group. "Iobi Home provides a control panel for all their communications. Given the complexity of modern communications, it's actually more like a control panel for their lives.
"Wireless and Internet technology can make communicating easier, but when someone has multiple phone numbers and e-mail addresses, these innovations can make communicating more - not less - complicated," Ingalls said. "Using the Internet to tie all of these devices and methods of communicating together, Verizon created iobi Home to help make consumers' lives much, much easier.
"It operates on both dial-up and a high-speed connection and does more than any other call-feature package on the market today," Ingalls said.
The integrated communications manager, unveiled earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, is now available in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine to Verizon residential telephone customers. Iobi Home will be offered in additional areas next month and across the country soon. Later this year, an enhanced version of the Internet-based service - iobi Professional - will be available to businesses; and Verizon will also launch iobi Enterprise, with additional features designed to support the needs of the largest businesses.
"Iobi has the potential to underpin a strategic transformation of Verizon from its traditional mission of 'pipes to the people' to 'power to the people,' giving customers much more control over their communications, information and entertainment services and devices," said Rob Rich, executive vice president-Yankee Group.
Iobi Home includes features to help today's busy families and individuals. The easy-to-use communications system can be accessed in any one of three ways - by software downloaded on a personal computer connected to the Internet; by logging on to the iobi Web site on the Internet from any computer; or by telephone using a voice-recognition portal.
The computer-based software provides the most robust functionality of iobi Home - including on-screen caller ID, online call direction and tracking of calls and voice messages. Just by clicking their mouse, consumers can answer, forward or send a call to voice mail in real time; find out where the caller is on a pop-up map; store the number in an address book; play a voice message; and forward voice messages as sound files via e-mail.
Iobi Home gives consumers more control over their communications than they have ever had. With iobi Home, they can:
- Know when they are getting a call on their home phone in real time whenever using the desktop software. While the phone is still ringing, consumers can intercept the call and forward it to another number, send it to voice mail, or play a preset message the customer selects.
- Schedule their phone to forward their calls to different numbers by day and time, automatically.
- Get a text message on their cell phone whenever they have a call or voice mail.
- "Click-and-add" phone numbers from the consumers' Caller ID to their address book, which is available online wherever they are.
- Access most iobi features using a toll-free voice portal, equipped with voice recognition technology, so consumers can manage their iobi Home features even if they are nowhere near a PC.
"The versatility iobi Home brings to the management of people's lives is unprecedented," Ingalls said. "It's the ultimate personal communications manager."
In addition to these features, iobi Home offers a call log, address book, calendar, text messaging, e-mail messaging, single sign-on for Verizon.com users, SuperPages and personal directory number lookup, always-on weather display, and access to calling-party maps. Broadband service is not required; iobi Home works with dial-up access on regular phone lines, making the most advanced call-management features available to everyone.
Verizon's Information Technology team invented iobi by linking the Internet and Verizon's advanced telephone network.
Iobi Home is available to Verizon residential customers throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine for $7.95 per month. Verizon Home Voice Mail is recommended for full product functionality. Customers will be supported by a new Verizon Advanced Product Support Center in Everett, Wash. For more information, consumers can go to www.verizon.com/iobi or call the local business office at the number on the Verizon bill.
A Dow 30 company, Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services, with approximately $68 billion in annual revenues. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world, as measured by directory titles and circulation. Verizon's international presence includes wireline and wireless communications operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.