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Why Talko's Ray Ozzie Is Betting Big on Voice

And why Microsoft missed the boat on mobile when he worked there.

Asa Mathat

We live in a world of texts, “Likes” and disappearing photographs. So who wants to hear people talk, using their phone?

Lots of people, says Ray Ozzie, who is betting his company on the notion.

In the kickoff interview for Code/Mobile, the former Microsoft executive took the wraps off Talko, an iPhone app that enables a kind of multimedia group chat called “calls,” which can seamlessly flow between text, images and voice.

Ozzie is positioning Talko as a product that will appeal to enterprise users — that is, business folks — who can’t use their phones today to quickly communicate messages with the same nuance that they can do at their desktop.

Another way of putting it: Use Talko, and you can keep working when you’re not at your desk. “It’s obvious now. The work boundaries don’t end at the workplace … for better or worse.”

Ozzie also weighed in on some of the current drama at Microsoft, where he spent years as chief technical officer. The company is struggling to catch up to mobile leaders Apple and Google, and in retrospect, Ozzie says, it’s easy to understand why: Big companies with successful products have a hard time disrupting themselves.

Now, he says, even if Microsoft can create mobile products that are as good as Android and iOS, it’s going to be hard to get developers on board because they’re spending all their resources building for the platforms that already have users. “Every time you add a new platform … you’re asking developers to do an unnatural act, which is just incredibly difficult to do.”

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