Is Yahoo's new Phone Service a Step Back?

Perhaps the guru of all Internet portals, Yahoo!, is taking a step back with its new, free phone service.

The company is not using the popular voice recognition applications like TellMe or BeVocal that could be so beneficial to users and save them time. While it is rumored that America Online and other Internet rivals will be using voice recognition, Yahoo!, instead, requires users to punch in responses as traditionally done in today's touch-tone environment.

The new service is designed to deliver email over a telephone rather than over the Web, and is ideal for the road warrior or anyone else who may not have a convenient connection and must retrieve mail.

Will the lack of the voice application have a negative impact on Yahoo!? Analysts say no. One advantage for Yahoo! is that users already have a profile set up for Internet-based services. This not only makes the phone process easier, but will perpetuate the built-in loyalty users have with the service.

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