June 26, 2009
Google Voice Issues Call to New Users
By Amy Tierney, TMCnet Web Editor
As expected, Google Inc. has moved forward with a wider launch of its free speech recognition service, which gives users a single number for all their phones and transcribing voice messages into text.
The Internet’s search and ad leader announced Thursday that it began opening up the service to other users. People who requested an invitation will soon receive an e-mail to start the service, Google (News - Alert) said.
As TMCnet reported, users will receive transcripts of their voicemails and can archive and search all of the SMS text messages they send and receive. Google Voice is a product of Google's 2007 acquisition of GrandCentral, a Freemont, Calif.-based firm that uses Web-based software to voice calls over the Internet.
Rumors flew last week when Google reportedly reserved one million phone numbers with Level 3, boosting speculation that the company may soon be preparing to launch the new service. Google introduced Google Voice as a private test in March. At the time, the company said the service would start accepting new users in a few weeks.
Those who receive invites can pick their own number. People can use the “number picker,” which lets them search by area code and text. The company suggests that consumers find a number that contains their name, a specific word or a number combination.”
For example, people who live in Minneapolis and want to include the word “awesome” as their number might have something like this for a number: (612) 293-7663, or (612) AWE-SOME.
The technology is expected to have many different uses. Some might consider it is a replacement for fixed line or mobile voice, while others might say it is a replacement for long distance or prepaid calling cards, TMCnet’s Gary Kim (News - Alert) wrote. Still, some users say Google Voice is a form of consumer unified communications.
So far, the service is free. Google has not announced plans to monetize it. Analysts say, however, the product could help Google’s mobile strategy, The New York Times reported.
“We expect the introduction of Google Voice will help accelerate Google’s mobile penetration by creating a larger mobile ecosystem against which Google can sell/target/monetize advertisements,” Ben Schachter, an analyst with Broadpoint AmTech, wrote in a note to investors. “Additionally, we expect Google Voice to be integrated with Android (News - Alert) and, if successful, may help increase penetration of Android-powered smartphones.”
Amy Tierney is a Web editor for TMCnet, covering unified communications, telepresence, IP communications industry trends and mobile technologies. To read more of Amy’s articles, please visit her columnist page.