Alcatel-Lucent has introduced Rich Communications Manager, an interface designed to bring a wider range of features to landline, mobile and IP-based phones.
The interface, unveiled on Monday, promises to let people use landline phones with features that are common on mobile phones today, such as text messaging and photo sharing.
The technology is built on a web-portal interface. That means users can potentially use it to access their Yahoo or Gmail address books, manage Facebook updates, upload pics or transcribe voicemails into text. Alcaltel-Lucent says the technology is open, which means it has the potential to be as feature-rich as customers want it to be.
Alcatel-Lucent is targeting the product at phone service providers, such as wireless carriers and traditional telecommunications providers. The system is designed to work with and enhance existing infrastructure already in place, so companies such as AT&T, Vonage or T-Mobile, for example, can add value to their services without building a new system from scratch.
The company noted that the technology, built on an open API, has the capability to do things that the service providers might not be ready for. Traditional carriers are concerned with preserving the integrity of their service, especially those in the landline business that offer an always-connected service.
The announcement comes on the heels of the debut of Google Voice, a virtual phone service that was designed around Google's acquisition of Grand Central. Google Voice — due to be opened to the general public in the coming weeks — will allow users to obtain a virtual phone number that can be programmed to place and receive calls via any phone. It will also manage voicemail, contacts and messaging from the web portal.