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Summary:

GrandCentral, a “one number for life” service provider acquired by Google in July 2007 is being reborn as Google Voice, a comprehensive service that is essentially a Microsoft Office-type suite of communications-related services. I say that because the new service is a collection of VoIP-related features […]

voice-logoGrandCentral, a “one number for life” service provider acquired by Google in July 2007 is being reborn as Google Voice, a comprehensive service that is essentially a Microsoft Office-type suite of communications-related services. I say that because the new service is a collection of VoIP-related features that one can typically get from different startups. New features include:

1. You can use your GrandCentral number to send and receive SMS messages, and have them forwarded to your current wireless phone. You can send messages from the mobile or from the phone.
2. Make phone calls using the web or your mobile/landline phone.
3. You can get transcripts for voicemails left on Google Voice. These transcripts, based on internal Google technology currently being used by GOOG-411 service, can be sent to you via SMS.
4. Create conference calls by dragging phone numbers onto existing calls. This will be useful for small businesses and web workers.
5. Free calls to all U.S. numbers. You can make international calls but that will cost you, depending on the country you are dialing.

googlevoice_inbox_croppedThe original GrandCentral features, such as voicemail screening and personalized greetings, are still available. Your voicemails can be emailed to you as attachments. Just as a warning, the upgrade to Google Voice won’t allow you to take your GrandCentral address book with you, since the new system uses Google Contacts. In addition, the service doesn’t work with those of you who have Google Apps accounts; you’ll need Gmail accounts. Lastly, they make you use Google Checkout to pay for international minutes. No thanks — I am happy paying with PayPal and/or credit cards.

At the time of the launch of the service, Vincent Paquet & Craig Walker, co-founders of the company had outlined this vision in a conversation back in 2006. With Google Voice, GrandCentral is truly becoming “one number for life.”

Bottom line: The Google folks upgraded my account, and after some heartburn, I got it working. As part of its new life as Google Voice, the GrandCentral web site has been redesigned to resemble Gmail, which I like mostly because, like many of you, I have become used to the sparse user interface. The SMS, voicemail and transcription services worked as advertised. The upgrades are truly worth the wait, and I have no hesitation in recommending this service to one and all.

  1. Voiceware is the next wave..

    can’t wait til I’m getting content based, localized ads played for me instead of ringback tones

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    1. Phone.com just launched an ad free competitive product and you can keep you number.

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      1. The phone.com service isn’t free, however.

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  2. I wasn’t able to login. “Invalid Request” was shown after I logged in. Anyone else having this problem?

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  3. Finally!! Let’s hope they roll this out to existing subscribers ASAP. It’s been languishing for far too long.

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  4. I haven’t used it yet, but based on the review, it sounds like it’s a shell of the VOIP services that are possible and could/should be offered. I just learned about Phone.com who have acquired a handsome domain and are offering a plethora of services, which include all these, but then extend far beyond into the Maestro/Wildfire realm.

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  5. is it by invite only? I got “invalid request” error.

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  6. @all

    if you are a grandcentral users you can upgrade starting today or latest tomorrow. I think you are going to like it. others can get on the bandwagon later this month, Google tells me.

    Josh Guttman

    Phone.com — oh that domain has so many memories.

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  7. Ditto – I get Invalid Request error and have been a GC user since the beginning – any ideas?

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  8. Vincent Paquet Wednesday, March 11, 2009

    All,

    GrandCentral users will be able to upgrade their account over the next few days. Please be patient if you’re not prompted to upgrade tomorrow, this will come soon.

    Thanks for your patience

    Vincent Paquet

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  9. I get the same response, Invalid request.

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  10. Hi – I don’t see much a business case in this. If they are planning to play localized ads, I am sure it will not go anywhere. There should be something more to it.

    Companies such as 800 PBX, Phone, Ringcentral all provide many many services and go beyond just one number for all concept. Few of them are voice driven and offer advanced IVR solutions as well. However, none of them are profitable and wouldn’t be for at least the next 1-2 years till the adoption of PBX goes up in B2B space.

    B2C as grandcentral is just a cookie cutter.

    - Manohar

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