When it comes to innovation, the dating industry is usually one of the last places early adopters will look for examples of cutting edge features. Until now. Match is slated to begin offering free anonymous phone calling between members. But this isn’t your garden variety, run of the mill $3.95 per minute anonymous calling.
Free for basic subscribers beginning Thursday, matchTalk will let users go online and signal if they’re interested in speaking to each other anonymously, and securely, over their telephones.
The matchTalk system assigns the couple a unique number that they can use to talk to each other without fear of giving away their real telephone number or other personal details. People with caller ID will see the matchTalk number instead of their actual listing.
Match tapped voice communication startup Jangl to power its new matchTalk service. It’s not mentioned in the release Match seeded last night, but Jangl communications guru Tim Johnson emailed me this afternoon to make sure I knew that Jangl was powering matchTalk. Tim is an absolute pro at spreading the word about Jangl and I look forward to receiving updates from him.
Check out the top of the Jangl press room page:
At Jangl, we make every effort to be press and blog-friendly, serving as reliable, timely and candid sources of information on not only our company, but our market, as well. If you would like to arrange a discussion with Jangl, please email us at tim (at) jangl.com, or call 925.271.5042
Right on. Compare this to how Match.com announced the news. Match.com seeded an Associated Press story last night announcing its new service and will send out a press announcement tomorrow. They don’t mention the partner name, stagger the release information and don’t do anything to make sure the news is released under embargo to the influencers/bloggers/pundits. Quite the old school, dead-tree, Main Stream Media-focused mindset. Then again, if you look at the track record Match has with promoting new features and services, their seemingly backwards print-focused media push makes more sense. But I digress.
Tim got Jangl CEO Michael Cerda on the phone and they walked me through the service. It took a few back and forths for me to fully comprehend how it works from the user experience, but that could also have been due to the cold medicine I’m on and the fact that the service is much faster to use than it is easy to explain, as many great applications are.
Much information is under embargo until Thursday when Match sends out another matchTalk press release, but here is what Michael told me about the deal and how the service works.
MatchTalk is free for basic subscribers, for now. This surprised me, I would think anonymous calling would be a nice revenue stream, but evidently consumers disagree.
Match choose to make the anonymous calling feature free to basic members in order to drive adoption rates and increase exposure. I’m sure a paid premium option is a possibility down the road. There are a variety of potential revenue streams in there somewhere, more will be revealed shortly after I talk to people in the know at Match. Speaking of, Will someone at Match please put me on the press release schedule? I was on it before but for some reason I’m not receiving them anymore. Oh, and I think it’s time for Jim Safka to start a blog if IAC will let him. Some transparency between consumers and dating sites is in order and I applaud executives who are blogging. If you’re not, you need to be, no excuses.
As for exclusivity, Michael was unable to say much until Match has the final public word about the relationship. I’m sure Jangl is going after the dating and social networking market with guns blazing. They have ex-Skype business development guru Pooj Preena working his rolodex for them, which is a huge asset. They will partner with websites while courting consumers at the Jangle.com website. Jangle will be taking off the wraps on a big service upgrade at their website as early as next week.
Talks with Match started almost a year ago, which makes sense. Background check companies have been flying to Texas for several years now, hoping for that magical meeting where the other side of the table understands the value proposition (and it’s the same people at the table for two meetings in a row.)
Since talks with Match started, Jangl has raised $7 million. When I wrote about it over the summer, I called them YAAPS, Yet Another Anonymous Phone Service. I was 100% wrong.
I’ve seen several anonymous phone services stick their toe in the online dating pool, only to exit after unsuccessful flirtation and move on to other lucrative markets like classifieds. Remember DateNumber? Bill Broadbent at Instinct Marketing said:
Their site(Jangl) even has the feel of DateNumber which pretty much all the players in the industry got to see and they gained no traction. I imagine the VC’s think there is some viral component as did DateNumber. DateNumber (gNumber) didn’t make it work, adapted, and completely shifted their business to enabling eBay transactions (a killer ap in a huge market). Maybe Jangl figured it out, but I am personally doubtful.
Phonematrix and a few others I can’t remember offhand round out the list of companies who have stepped up to the plate. Of them all, it appears Userplane has gained the most traction. Maybe Mike Jones can shed additional light on this.
Jangle is all about bringing the web experience to your phone, although in this case it’s not Enpocket shrinking down personal ads to fit on your mobile screen. This is a whole new way of dealing with anonymous online communication.
Ok, now maybe you want to know what matchTalk is? MatchTalk is a service that brings Match.com to your phone, wherever you are. Last night’s press release was totally botched. MatchTalk was being called a central conference call, which I would imagine most people would think of as group voice chat. Markus likens this to Lavalife, which has made a killing in the group chat market for many years.
MatchTalk is relationship based, not number based. This is an important distinction. Every relationship you have on Match with another user is managed just like you would their real phone number. Some people you pick right up, others you let go to voicemail. This level of control and not using one number for all your anonymous calling needs is some of what makes Jangl appear to be so different from other companies offering similar services.
MatchTalk is scalable, the numbers are reusable due to the fact that the two private numbers and the public number make it unique, so multiple people can share the same matchTalk number. I hope I’m getting that right.
Here’s how matchTalk works from the users perspective. Let’s say a guy is browsing profiles on Match.com. Women who have signed up for the service have a “talk to me” button added to their profile. When the guy finds someone he wants to talk to, he clicks the button in her profile, which triggers an email being sent to the woman stating “somefunguy” wants to talk with her.
If the woman accepts the invitation, she clicks “yes” in the email and I believe there is also a link to the guy’s profile as well. At least there should be.
Unlike earlier anonymous phone services. There is no special phone number to call unless the woman accepts the request, at which time the shared talkMatch number created. The number is specific to the relationship, just like we use regular numbers. More control, allowing you to manage relationships individually. Very cool.
Once she waves the green flag, both parties are sent an email and either may initiate the call. I would think men will be the initiators here. The usage stats on the service no doubt will shed new light on the role of anonymity in how people communicate.
If the woman decides to deny the request, the guy is sent some sort of Dear John email. Unless you have email on your phone, you need to be at a keyboard in order to go through the initial approve process. I wonder if you could do this via SMS and cut out email entirely?
If it’s a go, the guy (or the woman) then calls into the special 10-digit phone number (which was created just moments earlier) in the email and records a short message, “Hi I’m Ashton/Aimee, I liked reading your profile and see we both love dolphins, perhaps you would like to talk to me.”
He’s then put on hold momentarily while matchTalk puts the call through to the woman. One of several key talkMatch features is the call screening process. Either party can control how each matchTalk number should be dealt with. FunnyIronic woman is cool but I want her to go directly to voicemail. TallHottie who lives across town, I’ll pick up the phone any time she wants to talk.
After the guy leaves the short message, she listens to his greeting and decides whether or not to chat live or let the call go to her voicemail. She’s entirely in control of the situation.
Sitting on hold waiting for the other person to listen to your message, can you say targeted audio advertising opportunity?
If she says yes, the two are connected, free to talk for as long as they wish, paying only for the cost of the call. Each matchTalk phone number appears to be generated based on the requesters area code.
What happens if she sends him to voicemail because she is about to jump into the pool or enter the subway? MatchTalk does away with a third party voicemail system, because who needs another one of those? Yet another cool feature is voicemail masking. Somehow, Jangle has figured out a way to igore the outbound message on answering machines, leaving only the beep. So all your messages go to your refular voicemail. That’s very cool and a key privacy feature, because most people either announce their name or the number you have called.
For all subsequent calls, either party simply rings up the other by dialing up their matchTalk number from their address book. Since they both dial into the same number, it’s even simpler to manage all those numbers from a system administration standpoint.
When it comes to ending the relationship, as I understand it, and without using the service as of yet, you can completely turn off any single number and the relationship ends with it, without affecting any of your other relationships. You get that same satisfaction from removing your ex’s number from your phone’s address book. I predict that most people will list people’s matchTalk number under their membername, seems like the easiest way to manage all of the numbers. More on the dumping process later, I’m not sure how the dumpee is alerted to the bad news. This is another feature I’ve not seen in other anonymous calling systems.
You can assign ringtones and wallpaper to specific numbers, just like with everyone else in your address book. Everything works just like you use your phone today.
Remember, Jangl is about bringing the common web experience to phones. In the future, imagine dialing up someone and hearing a menu of options on how to contact them. Think about that in the context of social networking, it doesn’t take much to think of new services that could be hung off Jangl and talkMatch. If you add TellMe to the mix, things quickly start to get very interesting.
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