So, it's (sort of) official, thanks to Michael Arrington's indictment. Voice mail is the whipping boy of modern office communications. Voice mail has been almost totally usurped by e-mail, which itself is being eclipsed by newer tools like instant messaging and Twitter.
Among the knocks against voice mail, writes Arrington: It takes longer to listen to messages than to read them. You can't easily forward or respond to voice mail, so it's a collaboration killer. It's just not a part of the normal workflow for most folks. People who leave a voice mail often feel guilty about it, as do those who never listen to their messages.
Near the end of his post, Arrington mentions several services, including Spinvox, Jott, PhoneTag and Yap, that convert voice mail to text and then shoot it to you in an e-mail. Mobile carriers will also convert voice messages into text, for a fee.
These services remind me of the conversion services some payment networks offer to retail merchants, which allow a cashier to convert a check into a debit transaction at the point-of-sale. When I was covering the electronic payments beat, there was a debate over whether this would catch on before those stubborn check-writers finally died off.
Arrington concludes by saying he thinks people will eventually only listen to voice messages when they come from certain special loved ones, when it's desirable to judge them for tone or emotion, or when they just aren't transcribed properly. What do you think?