NEW YORK - Verizon is making life easier for busy New Yorkers by putting a home phone "control panel" right on the screen of their personal computers. It's iobi (SM) Home (pronounced eye-OH'-bee), the brand-new, industry-leading service that lets consumers be two places at once.
For example, 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 a text message sent to 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 on the table beside you.
It's not fantasy any more; it's reality. And it's in New York now.
The iobi integrated communications manager was unveiled earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Just last month, iobi Home was offered for the first time anywhere in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Now iobi Home is now available to Verizon residential customers throughout the five boroughs of New York -- Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island -- for $7.95 per month
By linking the Internet, the public telephone network and the personal computer, iobi Home 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 introducing iobi Home at DigitalLife((tm)) 2004 - the consumer electronics trade show, to be held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center Oct 14 through 17, which brings together the latest in technology for home, work and play. A demonstration of iobi Home will be available at booth 1037. An online press kit including PC and broadcast-quality video, a flash demo and a features list is available at http://newscenter2.verizon.com/kit/iobi/.
"Today is the day everything changes for New Yorkers 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. "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 call-feature package on the market today."
The Yankee Group consulting firm sees iobi as a "service delivery platform" that addresses interoperability and integration issues that slow consumer adoption of new services and technologies.
"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.
The easy-to-use iobi Home communications system can be accessed in any one of three ways - through the iobi Home client software on a personal computer connected to the Internet; through the iobi Web site, which can be accessed 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 real-time call direction and tracking of calls and voice messages. Just by clicking their mouse, consumers can answer, forward or send an incoming 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 when 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 calls to forward to different numbers by day and time, automatically.
- Get a text message on their cell phone whenever they have a new call or voice mail.
- "Click-and-add" phone numbers from the consumers' call log 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.
In addition to these features, iobi Home offers a call log, address book, calendar, text messaging, e-mail messaging, 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. It transcends other products, which merely merge voicemail platforms.
.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.
For more information, consumers can go to www.verizon.com/iobi or call the local business office at the number on their Verizon bill.
Verizon Home Voice Mail is recommended for full product functionality. Iobi Home is provided by Verizon Long Distance.
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.