Saturday, March 14, 2009

Google Voice to Offer Free Calls, Centralized Number

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Disclosure: I'm currently short Google (GOOG) stock for a short period of time

Google (GOOG) is taking another step towards taking control of more and more of your life. I wonder when the company makes the switch from "friendly giant" to "Microsoft like scary dominatrix"... not yet at least. The Google Voice is part genius, part scary. Below is an interesting offer from the company - 1 phone number for your entire life... and calls are free.* Now we know why they wanted that wireless spectrum so bad. In 10 years I will just be napping 22 hours a day, and hand over my life to Apple and Google to run...

*free, ex the advertisements you will be subject to ;)

***********

Via USA Today
  • Google wants to be your phone provider. And to get your business, it has a very enticing offer. Not only will its new Google Voice service give you free phone calls within the continental U.S., it also assigns you a new phone number that forwards calls to your cellphone and land line. And it transcribes your voice messages into e-mail.
  • To do all that, you must sign up for a new Google (GOOG) phone number to tie in your other connections. Google Voice, announced Thursday, will be available to the public within a few weeks, says Vincent Paquet, a Google senior product manager.
  • "We've all got a zillion different phone numbers. This greatly simplifies dealing with all those numbers, and consolidates them into one place," says Tom Austin, an analyst for researcher Gartner.
  • Digitizing your voice mail means those messages can be posted on blogs or shared via e-mail, Paquet says. (scarrrrrrryyyyyy)
  • Google Voice will compete with Internet phone providers such as eBay's Skype and Vonage, which lets subscribers make Internet phone calls from their land lines. Analyst Greg Sterling says Skype and Vonage could "really suffer" if Google Voice becomes successful.
How it works
  • Sign in to voice.google.com, choose a new phone number in your local area code, and assign your various phone numbers to it. Hand out the new number to friends. When they call you, all your phones will ring — land line, cellphone, etc. If you don't pick up, and it goes to voice mail, the messages are transcribed for free. They instantly show up in your Gmail e-mail box, as well on a voice.google.com page.
  • The free phone calls are placed from the voice.google.com site, where you type in the number, and choose which one you want to make the call from — cell or land line. Once the call is placed, your phone rings, and the call begins. (genius - as long as you are near a computer) The same process is used for international calls — but for those, you need to buy at least $10 worth of phone credits.
  • Google hopes to make money by selling low-cost international calls. Rates begin at 2 cents a minute for land-line calls to countries such as Germany and Spain, but go up to 18 cents a minute for mobile calls.
  • Google also offers free conference calling. You start the call by phoning another person, and up to five other callers can phone in while you're on the line.
Must be a catch...
  • The Google Voice home page bears a resemblance to the Gmail site. But unlike Gmail, Google is not serving up ads at Google Voice — yet. Danny Sullivan, editor of the SearchEngineWatch.com blog, doesn't think it will take long for that to change.
  • "This gives Google another way to get into your life," he says. "They get you using their phone number, and now you've even further linked to Google. Now, they can use the words of your messages to start throwing ads at you."

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