Excite@Home pushes universal messaging

Excite@Home and General Magic do a deal to use the Internet to offer universal messaging services that can be retrieved from a telephone.

Two new initiatives led by Net-over-cable firm Excite@Home will let consumers access voice, fax, and email messages from any phone.

Excite@Home plans to team with General Magic for an Internet service that will allow users to access almost all of their messaging information from a telephone.

The efforts highlight the steps portals are taking to increase the "stickiness" of their sites, so that users return again and again, driving traffic and advertising revenue.

Excite@Home will begin offering voice and fax messages through Excite Voicemail on Monday. This email account offers a toll-free number with a personal extension where users can access their messages. Users can receive 60 messages and 10 faxes per month, according to the company, and retrieve messages from the Excite Web site.

"Our goal is to give people convenient tools to control and manage their daily lives," said Joe Kraus, senior vice president of content at Excite@Home, in a statement. Excite Voicemail uses General Magic technology to allow users to navigate voice mail commands using natural speech.

In addition, Excite@Home is introducing Excite Voice Chat, provided by start-up Lipstream. The new service allows all users to engage in voice conversations over the Internet, using a PC, microphone, and speakers.

Separately, General Magic last week introduced myTalkTM, a free Internet service which lets people manage email through a telephone.