Ex-Microsoft exec Ray Ozzie looks to reinvent the phone call with ‘Talko’ iPhone app

“It is a gorgeous late summer afternoon, and I am sitting with Ray Ozzie in his spacious home office in Manchester-by-the-Sea, 30 miles up the coast from Boston,” Steven Levy reports for Medium. “The software visionary who created Lotus Notes and who later succeeded Bill Gates as Microsoft’s chief software architect, is explaining to me how the humble phone call is not dying, as many might believe, but is busy being reborn.”

“It’s not an abstract subject for the 58-year entrepreneur. For the past few weeks I have been using the app his company is announcing today, called Talko,” Levy reports. “It’s a weird, almost magical, combination of phone calling, text messaging, virtual conferencing and Instagram-ish photo sharing. Depending on how you view it, Talko is three or 39 years in the making.”

“At one point, Ozzie wants to show me something on the app. We both pull out our iPhones and connect with each other; actually, in that moment, we reconnect to a conversation we’ve been having all month that’s been recorded and archived in the app. I think my editor might be interested in the discussion, so we expand the conversation to include him. He’s unable to join us at the moment — I should have known, because the app lets me see that he’s walking around somewhere on the West Coast — but I shoot a photo for him to look at anyway, and Ozzie and I continue talking. Later, my editor will listen to that part of conversation and see the picture at the moment we shot it. And he’ll have the option to comment, perhaps kicking off a longer discussion down the road, either by convening us together in real time or continuing in the same piecemeal fashion as today,” Levy reports. “That’s a typical Talko phone call—mixing presence and playback for a totally new experience.”

“Talko can’t hope for ubiquity until it gets an Android version and a full-featured Web version,” Levy reports. “‘We can’t build a business on this until we have all of the above,’ says Ozzie, who wanted to make sure his engineers aced the iPhone first; now the team is well along on native versions on the other platforms.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As usual, even for an ex-Microsoft exec, iPhone comes first and all others are afterthoughts.

Related articles:
Unsurprisingly, survey says Apple’s iOS is highest priority among mobile developers – January 23, 2013
Starbucks exec: Android apps often ‘watered down’ – May 16, 2011
Developers overwhelmingly choose iOS first as interest in Android wanes for third time in last four quarters – October 2, 2012


  1. I don’t know. It sounds like it’s trying to do too much. Almost sounds like Google Wave for phone calls, but I’ll have to reserve further judgement until I use it or at least get more details.

    1. Wave had the Eric T Schmidt special touch which entailed copious spying, user tracking and data logging. The guy was hired to monetise Google search and this is best he could come up with.

  2. Ah, the good ol’ venture capitalist pump-and-dump.

    Tell tech bloggers(who you fund) to hype up an app(which you’re investing in) as the Next Big Thing, some gullible company believes the hype and buys it for much more than it’s worth, app goes nowhere and dies, you make a killer profit.

    Does anybody remember Highlight? Yeah.

  3. msft ex chief software architect designs app first for iPhone

    what does that tell you about Msft’s Mobile dreams?

    iOS is where the money is and probably the easier to design for (few models). Developers with less resources might skip all the others completely…

  4. I thought so. I saw the name and then found a picture of the chap in question. He is, indeed, one of the few Microsoft executives I’ve ever seen talk sense. I remember seeing a video of him sharing a stage-chat with Balmer and he kept half-wincing when Balmer started cranking up his ‘synergese’. Ozzie seemed to a quite a reasonable, sensible chap. Now I find out he’s Mr Lotus, rather than Mr Microsoft, and it all starts to make sense . . .

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