Check out Stuart Dredge’s article on Vlingo that came out this afternoon!

Nokia preload deal heralds Vlingo’s Euro expansion

Mobile voice recognition technology firm Vlingo says it’s setting its sights on Europe, having signed a deal with Nokia to preload its application on the N97 and E72 handsets.

The deal was announced at Nokia World earlier this month, and with English, German, Spanish and Italian languages supported from launch, it represents the US firm’s initial foray into Europe.

ME met up with founder John Nguyen and product manager Chris Micali at the conference for a hands-on demo, and we were certainly impressed.

No SpinVox-style call centres here: Vlingo’s app connects to a server to turn your voice instructions into actions, including web searches, text messaging and email, and dialling numbers. Social networking is also part of it, with the ability for N97 users to update their Facebook status by voice.

The app is free for basic features, but will require users to pay £3.49 a month for the ability to send unlimited texts and emails using the technology – or a one-off payment of £12.99.
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The preload deal strikes us as fairly important to get Vlingo into the hands of users, rather than relying on them to pay for and/or download it from somewhere like Nokia’s Ovi Store.

Nguyen explained that Vlingo has been successful in the US by getting people to try the service before committing to pay for it.

He also said that Vlingo’s technology goes beyond that seen in some handsets – for example the iPhone – because it can adapt to a user’s accent and vocabulary over time.

Vlingo does already have an iPhone app available, alongside BlackBerry and Windows Mobile, so Nokia is an addition to its offering rather than the sole focus.

There’s a natural cynicism around any new technology promising to turn voice into text without a hitch, following the recent SpinVox controversy. But judging by ME’s hands-on demo, Vlingo could well find a healthy base of users on this side of the Atlantic.