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Pioneering Research Probes Focus Group Participants' Understanding, Attitudes And Potential Behaviour Changes By Presenting Rich Multimodal Simulations


CANNES, FRANCE, February 19, 2002 - Comverse, a unit of Comverse Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ: CMVT), and the world's leading supplier of software and systems enabling network-based multimedia enhanced communications services, and global technology research and consulting firm, the Yankee Group, today announced that preliminary results from the telecommunication user research on multimodality will be revealed at a special press briefing to take place on the eve of the 3GSM World Congress conference in Cannes.


Multimodality is a new concept that allows telephony subscribers to move seamlessly between different modes of interaction, from visual to voice to touch, according to changes in context or user preference. At the same time, multimodality allows subscribers to do more than one action at once, in parallel, using different interaction modes on a single mobile device - for example, speaking at the same time as writing, reading or sending a message.

"Multimodality is all about giving users a richer, more intuitive mobile experience," said Benny Einhorn, Chief Marketing Officer of Comverse. "Comverse is committed to end- user research and has conducted a number of studies in the past as part of its ongoing focus on the end user and the true demands of the market. Comverse recognises that users must be involved from the earliest stages of the development process, so that our products reflect what users really want and need. To this end, together with leading research analyst firm, the Yankee Group, Comverse has conducted user research into multimodality, probing user understanding, attitudes and potential behaviour changes; and whether multimodality will stimulate customers to use their phones more often."

"We are very pleased to be working with Comverse on this ground-breaking study," said Chris Lewis, Vice President of Research at the Yankee Group, Europe Middle East and Africa. "The Yankee Group recognises that ease of use is one of the key inhibitors to adoption of enhanced services on wireless devices. 2002 will prove to be a seminal year for the wireless industry, determining its shape for years to come. If the challenges of the coming year are successfully met, returns from advanced mobile applications will supplement essential voice services to ensure strong overall revenue growth for the foreseeable future."


For the research study, three simulations - each rich with 'multimodal moments' - were presented to separate focus groups in Frankfurt, Germany; London, England; and Boston, MA, USA. Each focus group represented a different age group (18-25, 25-35, 35-50) and lasted approximately two hours. One-on-one in-depth interviews were also conducted in each location. All participants fit the minimum criteria of 'early adopters/active users.'


The focus groups grappled with questions such as:


- How will users respond to multimodality? Will they use new services? Will it remove intimidation?

- How should multimodality best be introduced and developed in applications?

- How can usability be preserved when interface complexity is increased?


The results that have been analysed from the focus groups to date include:

- Multimodality has real potential to improve people's everyday lives. End users generally grasp the concept, are impressed by it, and are eager to discover more. Key perceived benefits are improved time management, greater connectivity, more choice, freedom and fun. Some concerns were expressed, specifically cost, reliability, ease of use, and fear of new technology (intrusiveness). But these initial fears are often overcome as users appreciate that multimodality creates more (not less) user choice and freedom.


- Participants envision a wide range of benefits. Users are generally most excited by the parallel modes of interaction, and give a favorable response to the richer user experience that multimodality produces. In addition, participants demonstrated an impressive level of creativity, generating several new scenarios where multimodal interaction would produce user benefits. Participants' own definitions of multimodality, elicited at the end of each session, demonstrated a clear grasp of the concept and its advantages.


- Multimodality is a valuable competitive differentiator. If positioned and marketed correctly, multimodality can deliver real competitive advantage and brand loyalty. As an operator's ability to charge for multimodality will be subject to normal user resistance to price increases, multimodality should be positioned as an enhancement to existing applications rather than as something entirely new. And while implementation must not disappoint in terms of key user concerns (price, reliability, ease of use), overall user responses indicate that multimodality will generate additional airtime and ARPU for operators.


Comverse and the Yankee Group will be providing preliminary results from the research study at a special press briefing, taking place on February 18, 2002 at 6:00 PM (local time) at the Carlton Hotel in Cannes. Full results will be available in mid-March and will be released at the CTIA Wireless show in Orlando, FL, USA, on March 18-20, 2002.


This research is part of Comverses Medalist Spark Program, a service providing a comprehensive range of marketing consulting services designed to assist Comverse customers throughout the world in introducing new services and producing appropriate market-segmented application packages. Within the Medalist Spark Program, both qualitative and quantitative research studies have been conducted to gauge end-users behaviour towards next-generation products and services. Recent Medalist research has covered topics such as unified messaging and multimedia messaging services. The study results are being used by Comverse as part of its ongoing focus on the end-user and the true demands of the market.


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About The Yankee Group


The Yankee Group ( http://www.yankeegroup.com) is a global leader in technology research and consulting. The firm's customers, which include technology vendors and users, benefit from accurate, reliable, and trusted research, consulting, and personalised one-to-one client interaction covering communications and IT products and services. Now in its fourth decade, the company is headquartered in Boston and maintains offices throughout North America, Europe, Latin America, and the Pacific Rim.



About Comverse

Comverse, a unit of Comverse Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ: CMVT) is the world's leading provider of software and systems enabling network-based multimedia enhanced communications services with over 380 customers, in more than 100 countries. Comverse provides a wide range of solutions enabling multimedia messaging, multi- protocol mobile Internet platforms, wireless data and short messaging services, wireless instant messaging, speech-controlled portal, wireless prepaid services, interactive voice response and other personal communications services. Other Comverse Technology business units include: Verint Systems, Inc., a leading provider of analytic solutions for digital video security and surveillance, communications interception, and enterprise business intelligence; and Ulticom, a leading provider of service-enabling network software for wireless, wireline, and Internet communications applications. Comverse Technology is an S&P 500 and NASDAQ-100 Index company.


For additional information, visit the Comverse web site at http://www.comverse.com


All product and company names mentioned herein may be registered trademarks or trademarks of Comverse or the respective referenced company(s).



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