In the spirit of my trademark watch this morning:
Earlier this week, Apple filed a U.S. trademark for ‘VOICEPASS’, in the ‘Construction and Repair Services’ category. Bloomberg casually mentioned the trademark filing earlier today, as did one iPhone tips and tricks blogger and Patently Apple.
The thing about the trademark is that while it was pretty easy to find out what it is for, I haven’t seen anyone discussing its impact and potential. So here goes.
The description provided to the USPTO for the trademark is pretty long, yet straightforward:
“Installation, repair, maintenance and servicing of computers and of electronic, electromechanical, optical, magnetic and electrical equipment for use with computers; technical services and support; web based support and diagnostic services by using resources and tools for computer software and computer hardware provided on-line and over telecommunications networks; support services available computer network or the Internet, or over a telecommunications network; multimedia technical services and support; information relating to installation, maintenance, repair, servicing and updating of computers transmitted through mailshots, e-mail updates, e-mail support notices, and over telecommunications networks; installation, maintenance, repair and servicing of computer hardware, computer peripheral devices, photographic, apparatus and equipment, apparatus and equipment for recording and/or reproducing sound and/or images, and telecommunications apparatus and equipment; computer installation services; computer maintenance services; computer repair services; advisory, information and consultancy services relating to the aforesaid.”
Customer support, in other words.
VoicePass gets a first mention when you hit the login page for your Apple support profile.
“You can also join VoicePass, so Apple can quickly identify you and provide a fast, personalized experience when you call.”
Yes, that means that when you call Apple Support from a registered phone number, they will be able to recognize you automatically, which evidently speeds up things.
Interestingly, when you actually access your support profile, you’ll notice that the feature is only available in the U.S. and Canada.
You can use the service to connect a phone number to your Apple support ID, although the company points out each phone number can only be registered in VoicePass to one customer at a time, while phone numbers with extensions are apparently not eligible for VoicePass.
If you’re in the United States, you can also allow Apple Support to send you SMS messages.
It’s what any company’s customer support service would be doing, if this were Utopia.
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure this is brand new – the trademark application mentions that Apple started using VoicePass commercially in June 2010 – but I’ve never noticed it before, and I can’t find any mention of the Apple VoicePass service anywhere on the Web, not even on the many Apple-focused blogs and news sites out there.
Feel free to point out if I’m gravely overlooking something here.
Update: and thanks to a commenter, I now know that VoicePass rolled out in mid-September as part of the “Express Lane” customer service feature. On a related note, Apple also filed a U.S. trademark for ‘Express Lane’ this week.
Another thing I’ve noticed: when you register an Apple product, like I just did with my iPhone 3GS, you can give it a unique nickname. Apple indicates that nicknaming your devices make it easy for them to identify products when you call Support.
The company asks to keep them “short and simple, in case they are spoken aloud”. Nicknames can only be used once, and cannot be saved if they contain more than 5 words, punctuation, special characters or, of course, profanity.
Again, I’m not 100% certain this is entirely new, but I haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere else yet so I figured I should just throw it out there.
And don’t worry, I don’t actually refer to my phone as “my precious”.