One of the iPhone's most compelling features has been commoditized by Verizon Wireless.The Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Verizon Wireless announced that they are now offering the once Apple-only Visual Voice Mail feature on their LG Voyager handset (which I reviewed on 12 December 2007) for an additional US$2.99 per month. Neither Apple, nor Sprint charge additional fees for their visual voice mail features on the iPhone and the Samsung Instinct. VZW says that the feature will be added to other handsets but didn't offer a timeline.
Aside: Do you think that they called it "Visual Voice Mail" (three words) instead of "Visual Voicemail" (two words) to keep out of Apple's sights?
The VZW press release elaborates:
Customers can store up to 40 messages for 40 days – double the storage capacity and nearly double the retention time of Basic Voice Mail. In addition, customers can create up to 10 greetings, as well as up to 20 distribution lists and 50 distribution members to receive messages.
According to Electronista, VZW's Visual Voice Mail has several features that the iPhone version doesn't including "the ability to add an unknown caller as a contact, forward messages, or store permanent copies to the phone itself rather than rely on a remote server."
Back in March 2008 Klausner Technologies sued Apple and AT&T Mobility for infringing on a patent outlining Visual Voicemail first issued to Klausner in 1994. The suit was settled on 18 June with Klausner licensing the technology to both Apple and AT&T. It appears that Klausner is cashing in by licensing the patent to all comers.
Verizon Wireless's network currently serves over 68 million customers and was Apple's first choice in selecting a wireless carrier for the iPhone.