Conversa Messenger to Be Available in Staples Stores Nationwide; Voice-Driven Messaging System Will Be Available for Purchase at More Than 710 Staples Locations

06:02 a.m. Jan 15, 1999 Eastern

REDMOND, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 15, 1999--Conversational Computing Corp. (Conversa) and Staples, a leading national retailer of office products, Friday announced that Staples will market Conversa Messenger throughout all Staples locations nationwide.

As part of the agreement, Conversa Messenger will be promoted from in-store video kiosks introducing Messenger and highlighting many of its features. Conversa Messenger will be available at Staples locations beginning January 1999.

Conversa Messenger is an intelligent, conversational, unified messaging software package for the desktop. Utilizing speaker-independent voice recognition and human-like conversational interaction, Conversa Messenger handles all messaging needs, from e-mail to voice mail and fax, either from the desktop or from a cell or landline phone.

It fully supports Microsoft Outlook and all other MAPI (Messaging API) compliant applications. Conversa Messenger is one of the first integrated and speech-enabled Windows 32-bit Internet/telephony products that was written, from the outset, to leverage the full potential of the Windows 95 and Windows 98 operating systems.

Also, it was designed to be among the first speech-enabled communications products to cross over the boundaries of the consumer and SOHO (small office, home office) marketplaces. All features are available to the user through a traditional graphical user interface (GUI), and many features are available through application of the conversational computing natural language speech interface.

"We are very pleased to have reached an agreement with such a prominent retailer as Staples to carry Conversa Messenger," said Steve Rondel, chairman and chief executive officer of Conversa. "This agreement definitely expands our reach into the SOHO, small- and medium-sized business and mobile professionals markets. These are the groups that can really benefit from Conversa Messenger."

Leslie McDonald, account executive, Consumer Markets Division -- Ingram Micro, said: "Conversa Messenger is a product that is perfect for Staples' customer base. We're looking forward to our involvement in what we feel will be a mutually successful product-retailer relationship."

Dennis Agresti, software buyer, Staples, commented: "We are excited to bring this new technology to the marketplace. The ability to manage e-mail, voice mail and fax over the phone offers breakthrough functionality that our business customers can really use."

Conversa's products are also carried by other national retailers, including Best Buy, CompUSA, Micro Center and Fry's Electronics.

Established in 1994, privately held Conversa develops and markets cutting-edge speech interface software. Conversa's technology, Conversational Computing, allows users to interact with their environment intuitively and naturally with speech.

The company's award-winning products -- designed for personal computers and non-PC platforms -- use natural language, speaker-independent technology to help the user complete tasks.

Conversa's tools and applications address a wide range of computing activities such as managing e-mail and voice messages over the telephone, using voice to surf the Web, and speech-driven information processing.

Conversa's speech recognition, response and processing engines are proprietary and based on several patents pending. The company's voice recognition features continuous speech and is speaker-independent, allowing the user to speak naturally, and does not require the user to train the system in order to understand his or her voice.

Conversa's corporate headquarters is located at 8522 154th Avenue NE, Redmond, Wash. 98052. Phone: 425/895-1800 or toll-free at 888/487-4373. FAX: 425/861-8664. URL:

Editorial inquiries: Barbara Evans or David Kaye at KPR Inc. Phone: 818/368-8212. FAX: 818/368-8857. E-mail: [email protected] or [email protected].

Copyright 1999, Business Wire