New Google Voice service rivals Skype, targets global domination
By Adam Fendelman, About.com
Google isn’t in the business of losing. Rather, Google is in the business of global domination. Google now wants to be your all-encompassing communicator everywhere and at all times.
With the announcement on March 12, 2009 of the impending launch of Google Voice, the battle now begins for Google to convert a wealth of Skype’s 400 million online callers.
Microsoft and other mobile operators will certainly be taking notice, too. Skype provides “free calls, video calls and instant messaging over the Internet”.
With Skype, you can call landlines and cell phones around the world for a very, very low cost.
That cost ranges from $2.95 a month (unlimited calls to landlines and cell phones in the U.S. and Canada) up to $9.95 a month (for unlimited world calling to landlines in 36 countries).
With Google Voice, on the other hand, Google will attempt to convert Skype users and attract new Internet callers with a bevy of fancy Google features, the omnipresent Google name and, of course, by undercutting Skype on price.
Google Voice will make money, too. Google plans to offer cheaper international rates than Skype.
The first selling point for Google Voice, which can be used with cell phones, landlines and computers, is its offer to you of “one number for life” for all your calls and text messaging. But there’s much more.
You’ll also be able to screen calls; listen in before answering a phone call; block unwanted callers; send, receive and store text messages; call U.S. numbers for free; answer on any of your phones; conduct phone routing; and initiate phone forwarding.
As for voicemail, Google has even amped things up a notch there, too. You’ll get voicemail transcripts (in email or text message form), the ability to listen to voicemail online or via your phone, you can get voicemails in email or SMS form, you can personalize your greetings and you can forward or download your voicemails, too.
Conference calling, call record (and the ability to store calls online), call switching (switch phones during your call), a mobile site (view your inbox from your cell phone), GOOG-411 (free directory assistance) and group preference management all come standard and free with Google Voice, too.
Google Voice offers a wide array of instructional videos about all its features here.
Following the typical rah-rah campaign of a new service launch from Google and while bugs are poisoned and fixed, expect for Google Voice to even threaten Microsoft Outlook and other communication tools used primarily by businesses.
While Skype users are bound to a computer, Google Voice’s promise is an unshackling of that limitation so you can communicate where, when and how you please. With Google Voice, Google intends to be your entire communications hub.
Are you sold? Slow down.
Unless you’re a current GrandCentral user (a company Google acquired in July 2007), you can’t get Google Voice today. Whenever Google announces a new product, the behemoth typically builds excitement by only letting a select group of people trickle in.
If you are interested, don’t worry. Google says Google Voice will be available to new users “soon”. This article was posted on March 13, 2009.