Aswath points out that speech rec isn’t required in systems that have keyboards, and questions the value of the recent announcement by Skype.
First, we should note that these technology platforms have two components: playout the content stored in a website and recognizing the user’s speech to decide what needs to be played next.
The latter requires an automatic speech recognition (ASR) utility. You need this to be of high quality. This where companies like Tellme excel. This is required if the medium of interaction is the standard telephone. But IM clients like Skype, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger et al. do not require this utility. The customer can easily type in the preferences via the text window rather than speak it and then later interpreted by an ASR.