Announced last Thursday, Google Voice (based on the Grand Central acquisition) is yet another nail in the ‘core services’ coffin of the Telcos. It promises to not only allow easy consolidation of multiple phone numbers to quote the NY Times “one number to ring them all” [link], but also provide easier management of voice mails and conference calling. The consumer cost appears to be very low and provides a real challenge to Telcos. Some observations (and I can’t wait to sign up !!)
- It provides a very cheap way of creating an additional dedicated ‘home’ business line (and being able to redirect calls coming into that number to multiple destinations). Taking a personal example, rather than pay $27.86 per month ((including fees and taxes but without voicemail or other features) for a business line which I use occasionally – I can use Google Voice for a fraction of the cost.
- It is not a Skype-killer, there is no video feed and while switching costs are very low, the ongoing cost is also low making the monetary benefit not compelling.
- It will become harder and harder for Telcos (and others) to justify charging for conference calling features (can Web conferencing be far behind?)
- What is in it for Google? My initial take is that there is little revenue in this for Google but it further strengthens the Google brand as the place to go for consumer innovation.