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Sound-bite spamming?

Internet phone maker VocalTec releases voice mail software that allows email users to send voice snippets over the Net.

Internet phone maker VocalTec (VOCLF) has just released voice mail software that allows email users to send voice snippets over the Net.

Simply called Internet Voice Mail, the program works with any email program that supports the MIME protocol. The software allows Net users to transmit voice recordings either on their own or as attachments to email messages. The voice mail appears in the receiver's in-box just like a regular email message, the company said.

By downloading an audio file to the recipient's hard drive, the program does not rely on the Internet for audio streaming and could possibly provide a more technologically viable alternative to the unreliability of Internet telephony.

Internet phones have been a hot topic this year, but skeptics are wondering if the Internet's congestion and inherent delays will allow two-way voice conversation software such as VocalTec's Internet Phone, VDONet's VDOPhone, and NetSpeak's WebPhone to supplant the long-established telephone system.

To record voice mail, users need Internet Voice Mail software and a microphone-equipped PC or Macintosh. However, recipients of sound bites need only the Voice Mail Player, available as a free download from the VocalTec Web site. Senders can also include the player with a voice mail message.

Messages can be of any length and will transmit over any bandwidth, according to Internet Voice Mail product manager Scott Wharton. Expected street price for Internet Voice Mail is $29.95. Registered Internet Phone users can buy VocalTec VoiceMail for $19.95. The product is available immediately for both Windows and Mac.