SpinVox declined our video video offer; We won’t be participating in demo

I’m clairvoyant! SpinVox have, predictably, declined MIR’s offer to produce a video of their upcoming demonstrations for the media (mostly taking place tomorrow).

Here is the response via their PR representative at Porter Novelli:

I have checked with SpinVox and unfortunately there is absolutely no way that we can allow any filming in the office for security reasons.

Which, of course, is a bollocks response. If you recall, we even offered them full editorial vetom. Some would say we extended too much, but I was keen to ensure that, for any right-minded security professional, our offer of filming their video demonstration was entirely fair, appropriate and possible. We wouldn’t film anything that wasn’t specifically approved. We’d give them full editing rights/veto. We’d produce the video ON site, we’d leave the raw content/tapes with them and so on.

It’s my view that me simply experiencing how their system works won’t tell you much at all. I think you need to see me and/or Alex or one of the MIR team (or even a representative from another publication) playing with and testing out the system.  We need to visualise the process and simultaneously look into the whites of the SpinVox team eyes. We don’t need to have close-ups of the user interface. We don’t even need to film equipment. But what we do need is authenticity.

I think the MIR audience requires this.

A glowing piece of text from me, as a result of experiencing their UI and call centre systems under test conditions, isn’t, I don’t think, what a lot of people are looking for.

But I think such a video would have gone a long way to remove/quell the concerns of the majority of people, wondering about the company’s technology.

We still wouldn’t have got that percentage answer to the question of how many voicemail messages are referred to humans. We still wouldn’t have got a look into the company’s call centres. Are they sweatshops? Are they air-conditioned palaces filled with bright-eyed, happy-to-help, delighted-to-have-a-job agents? Are we talking dark, dingy, 5-people-to-a-2ft-wide-desk hot, uncomfortable working conditions? Who knows. One hopes for the best.

And what, then, of the company’s financial position? That’s the next issue that, of course, we’d have had to skip past whilst attending the company’s demo.

This said, I’ll be watching with baitedbated breath to see how impressed the media representatives are. They’re all descending upon SpinVox HQ tomorrow so we should have some updates later tomorrow for you.

I’ll prejudge them for you right now though.

I predict reasonably good responses from most. I think the SpinVox chaps will do a good job of demonstrating the utter arse that is voicemail transcription. Yes the system can understand ‘call me’ and ‘hello’. No the system can’t automatically transcribe your grandmother’s rambling message accurately. I suspect most will come away with a new-found appreciation of the intricacies of the technology process.

Will it answer the overriding issues that people are still calling me about daily? No.

To those going to the HQ tomorrow: Have fun!

Update: Michael, thank you for pointing out the embarrassing bating vs baiting gramerrrr error ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/Whatleydude James Whatley

    Gutted you won't be joining us.
    Sincerely.

    But….

    I have to say Ewan, video *really* isn't everything and I'll be honest, this feels like a bit of a get out to me.

    SpinVox is opening its doors for the first time, ever.
    SpinVox is going to be showing its guests things that have never seen outside of an NDA, ever.

    And the fact that they don't really want you to put this online for all their competitors to see is stopping you from attending?

    In the spirit of openness buddy: Give me a break.

    But hey, who am I to comment…? It's probably much easier to sit back to poke fun after all.
    Remind me, this is post number what now?

    Ewan,
    Your invite is still open.
    You have my number.

    Would be a shame for you to miss this.

    Cheers.

  • http://alexwoodcreates.com/ Alex Wood

    Why not have video? If your technology is **that** unique, it'd be hard to copy from a short web clip. Or, are you hiding something?

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    I think it might be post 19 of the SpinVox debacle, James, I don't quite recall.

    I've been really, really clear that I would actually do the video editing AT the SpinVox HQ. That I wouldn't film anything that was 'classified'. But I would want to film, for example, me speaking to camera, sitting behind a monitor.

    That monitor would display the SpinVox system — this super sexy stuff we've all been hearing about — that I can *visually* see, but viewers of the video cannot. They can only see my face. They can see the top of the monitor. They can't see the content of the screen. I'd position the camera behind the monitor. This way, they can see me make a call, leave a voicemail then see my eyes come alight as, magically, the SpinVox system translates *most* of it. I'm then able to talk to camera, describing roughly what I'm seeing, — again, without giving *anything* away in terms of commercial sensitivity. And on top of it all, I'd then edit the video there and then allowing the SpinVox security goons to take out anything that might possibly give competitors an advantage.

    The key point is being able to present the MIR audience with something that they can visualise and use to make their own judgments.

    The fact I can't do this is most definitely stopping me from attending.

    I think that's the minimum I need to give the audience.

    Otherwise we'll all simply read the excellent reports from the other media chaps and ladies attending.

  • Greyscale

    Deary me, you two are like children. What actually is the real issue here? That sometimes a human has to intervene where the computers fail? How is this different to anything else?

  • ianhomer

    Ewan, I like your articles. I don't necessarily need to see video content and I'm not sure I get what your objection is. I know you do good video content and it'd be great to have a video story of this – but I can understand SpinVox have the right to say no to video. Let's get back to heart the matter, get this topic resolved and move on.

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    I think we resolve it thus, Ian: SpinVox won't give the full picture, and we move on.

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    That's always a good way to bring the conversation to a head, Greyscale. The real issue I have with SpinVox? Trust, I think. No issues with James himself other than his occasional choice of sunglasses.

  • njar

    can't u have a hidden cam in a flower on your lapel? haha :)

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Or maybe do a live QIK video? ;-)

  • njar

    haha indeed! BTW you'll be pleased to hear i capitulated and hooked myself up with a shiny phone. Yes yes I know.. about time. unlocked $870.. not cheap! But so far so good.. Ah get this though.. telstra $10/month for 150mbs…. BAH

  • Mark_Tynan

    I think you should go…

    If, after seeing what they have to show, you feel they are not being fully transparent then report it.
    I wolud like to hear your opinion on this issue after you've seen their demo.

    I think after all of this interesting coverage it's a bit of an anti climax not to go and at least try to find out the truth, at least as they see it.

    Go on Ewan, note book and pen !

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Its about time njar! I trust you are downloading apps with fervour despite that 'unlimited' limit?

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    I'll read the resulting coverage Mark, it's not going to fix the bigger questions I have. I think I should just publish a SpinVox post and leave it on the frontpage until the questions are answered or they go out of business.

  • njar

    i know i know! I am using lots of the office wifi.. but don't tell the boss!

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    It's for business purposes. Surely!

  • njar

    I need to get to at least 50 on flight control before i can show my face at Firemint.. :)

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    I think that's the absolute minimum, aye!

  • AJ

    You got a mention in today's Guardian. Interesting.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2009/aug/04

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Well spotted AJ!

  • Grant

    No surprises there then!

    Interesting: Someone at Spinvox's 'apparent' (by the looks of it – my comment was there, then it wasn't) decision to delete a recent comment I left on their blog, posing some questions which they have as yet failed to answer.

    For a moment I was thinking “God I'd hate to be in the firing line for dealing with the backlash this one…”. Then I realised. Dealing with the questions that have arisen has just been a matter of avoid, avoid, avoid, patch up – but still really avoid…avoid, avoid, avoid. Loads of people can write nice sounding, “web 2.0″, confidence-instilling words over user-friendly mediums. It's what is behind them that counts, and so far we ain't seen much. Their blank refusal to allow to film is just another step in that direction.

  • njar

    i know i know! I am using lots of the office wifi.. but don't tell the boss!

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    It's for business purposes. Surely!

  • njar

    I need to get to at least 50 on flight control before i can show my face at Firemint.. :)

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    I think that's the absolute minimum, aye!

  • AJ

    You got a mention in today's Guardian. Interesting.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2009/aug/04

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Well spotted AJ!

  • Grant

    No surprises there then!

    Interesting: Someone at Spinvox's 'apparent' (by the looks of it – my comment was there, then it wasn't) decision to delete a recent comment I left on their blog, posing some questions which they have as yet failed to answer.

    For a moment I was thinking “God I'd hate to be in the firing line for dealing with the backlash this one…”. Then I realised. Dealing with the questions that have arisen has just been a matter of avoid, avoid, avoid, patch up – but still really avoid…avoid, avoid, avoid. Loads of people can write nice sounding, “web 2.0″, confidence-instilling words over user-friendly mediums. It's what is behind them that counts, and so far we ain't seen much. Their blank refusal to allow to film is just another step in that direction.

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