Cell C heads for the clouds: A move towards ‘mobile 2.0’

Smartphones have taken the mobile experience from just simple voice calls to a rich social media and application-driven existence. The rise of smartphones mean phone services like contact lists, call history, call registers, voicemail and even the phone call itself are increasingly heading to the great cloud.

Cell C CEO, Lars Reichelt, explained some of the implications of the growing world-wide smartphone craze (“app phones” as he refers to them) and Cell C’s new cloud product, MyTools, while speaking to an audience of entrepreneurs at Cape Town’s Silicon Cape Initiative event on Tuesday night.

“App phones are on the rise, by 2015, 8 out of 10 South Africans will be using them. Mobile has come a long way and voice calls need to become more appealing. Imagine being able to manage your voicemail like your email, being able to share SMSes and phonebook recovery. Mobile needs be more like Web 2.0 and we have created a cloud service that allows you to do all those things integrated within the Cell C network,” said Reichelt while explaining the concept.

MyTools is a product that enables mobile users to easily manage their calls and voicemail online. The conversion of mobile telephony into a Web 2.0 experience, which Reichelt refers to as “Mobile 2.0”, is loosely based on Google Voice, Google’s new IP-based telecommunications service. Essentially MyTools is Google Voice, but from a mobile operator’s perspective.

Reichelt refers to MyTools as the “future of mobile telephony”. This technology will allow users to leave distinct, different voice mail greetings for contacts such as parents, friends and clients. And when a user has multiple voice messages on their phone, they can go online and listen to a particular message without having to go through each one consecutively.

Other ‘tools’ include:

  • Call Filter – you can block unwanted calls, decide who you wish to speak to or send a specific call straight to voicemail.
  • Web 2.0 Voicemail – an advanced voicemail service that includes visual voicemail, downloads, greetings catalogue (you can pick the type of greeting you want, from something funny to the more serious/businesslike) and consumer personalisation.
  • Online Phonebook – your contacts are stored online for easy recovery in case of damage or loss of phone. Contacts can be imported from Outlook for Windows users or using vCards. Cell C is busy working on other operating systems such as Apple and possibly Linux.
  • Call History – all your incoming and outgoing calls are listed in one convenient place. This feature is not so impressive, call history we already have, however this call history can go back up to year.

“Google Voice is a brilliant product and people need products like that, unfortunately Google Voice is not available in South Africa. There is no other product like this in the South African mobile market at the moment. It’s needed and it will work. We are relying on you [the audience] to give us feedback as we are still in the testing stages,” said Reichelt.

Reichelt also refers to the product as a “mash-up of mobile and internet that is integrated with social media and synchronises in real time”. All it takes is signing up on the MyTools site for free. Although some of the services are currently not ready as the site is still in beta phase.


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