Google’s New Voice Toy
Search engine, e-mail, chat, videos – it’s still not enough for Google. In the company’s latest undertaking to dip its toes into everything, Google has got the community buzzing with reviews of its new online service, Google Voice.
What is it? Basically, Google Voice is free online phone management for users.
There’s been some confusion with the service. A lot of people think the phone number Google Voice provides is supposed to be a replacement for your existing contact number. If this were the case then there would be pandemonium right now to acquire the service and Google would be a magic maker. But it’s not. Instead, Google Voice is an application that provides us with a better way to manage our phone conversations, primarily by offering transcripts to everything said over the phone – which is actually pretty cool.
Additionally, some extra perks Google Voice offers us are: all-you-can-text SMS messaging, low-priced international calling (like 8 cents/minute to call Mexico low), voicemail transcripts and the ability to record inbound calls (with outbound coming in the future). Keep in mind calls must be made through VoIP directly from the Google Voice website.
Despite recent news that the Google Voice application was rejected by Apple and AT&T, the service is still making leeway. Access to the phone management service is limited right now (just like Gmail in its early days), so it’s basically invite only at this time. But feel free to take a number and request to wait in line for this program. Google will get back to you with your brand new Google Voice number if you’re selected as a user.
And it’s all free.
… Which makes us wonder how or when Google will be able to pull in some revenue from this service. An article I read mentioned how consumer-facing unified communications (like Google Voice) are the “$0 billion market.” Why? Because they simply don’t make that much of a difference in a consumer’s life. Perhaps we don’t really need a superior online secretary that manages our voice communications and makes copious transcripts of our voicemail? On an individual level this doesn’t seem that useful, but I can see sure benefits if you’re running a business and need to consolidate and manage calls.
Past experience has shown that Google is no dummy and I’m sure they have plans up their sleeves to churn backend revenue from the Google Voice service. They’re also being “oh so Google” by letting the consumers experiment and play with Voice to observe user behavior around the application. This hands-off approach has worked well for them in the past and they’re letting users make modifications and recommendations, all the while keeping a keen eye on proceedings.
Perhaps Google can make their Voice toy into a real winner.