Slydial: Helping us Avoid Reality

1216914213Like all good Bostonians, the majority of my waking day is spent stalling some people and avoiding the rest. This isn’t especially healthy or productive but, as you may know, it’s a hard habit to shake. The Faneuil Hall-based mobile software company, MobileSphere, picked up on this endearing Masshole characteristic and launched a new mobile phone feature to assist in shirking communication.

The mischievously-named Slydial allows users to dial 267-Slydial (267-759-3425), then enter any mobile phone number and be connected directly to the owner’s voicemail box, freeing them from the hassle of actually talking to the people they call.

Their marketing campaign cites the feature’s usefulness in creating the “illusion of communication.” You can dodge prying relatives (yes, Aunt Kate, I’m still single) or tell the boss you can’t make it in without explaining exactly what ails you (a wicked hangover).

Rima Patel, MobileSphere’s marketing and sales manager, says, “We were trying to make people laugh with our marketing campaign and get the word out there by approaching it in a humorous, sassy way.”

The service is free and there is no registration required. However, there is a ten-second advertisement from companies urging callers to “Hit 9 for a joke of the day” or “Press the star key to win free tickets!”

Aside from the slightly deceitful nature of the call and its capacity for pranks, Slydial can serve a few legitimate purposes. For example, you may want to leave a voicemail for someone you know is in a meeting, or if you’re trying to avoid waking someone up during the night and you don’t want to text them.

One problem with the service is that, depending on the carrier, a missed call alert may appear on the person’s cell, often before you finish leaving the voice message. This lets them call you back, while you are actively avoiding them, which makes for a very awkward conversation. I’m also frequently too lazy or time-pressed to listen to my voicemail and simply call the person back when I see a missed call.

This renders Slydial little more than a temporary fix, a way of putting off someone for about as long as it takes to chew it over with a Twix bar. Still, any delay in talking to Aunt Kate about my love life is appreciated.