6 Comments

Summary:

Google, nearly three years after it bought the service that is the underpinning of Google Voice, is finally opening it up to U.S. residents, though no such luck for international users. With Google Voice, the search giant can push phone companies into the background.

Google Voice, the service that’s been behind a velvet rope for almost a year, is finally opening up to all comers, at least in the U.S. Google Voice is based on Grand Central’s one-number-for-life service. Google acquired Grand Central in 2007 for a rumored $50 million and since then has been trying to integrate it with its various offerings. From today’s press release:

A little over a year ago, we released an early preview of Google Voice, our web-based platform for managing your communications. We introduced one number to ring all your phones, voicemail that works like email, free calls and text messages to the U.S. and Canada, low-priced international calls and more—the only catch was you had to request and receive an invite to try it out. Today, after lots of testing and tweaking, we’re excited to open up Google Voice to the public, no invitation required.

Over the past year, we’ve introduced a mobile web app, an integrated voicemail player in Gmail, the ability to use Google Voice with your existing number and more. Over a million of you are now actively using Google Voice, and many of the features released over the past year (like SMS to email and our Chrome extension) came as a result of your suggestions, so thanks!

When Google announced the service in July 2009, I pointed out that it was a good way for Google to become a phone company. Fast-forward to today, and you can see the company is making strides, especially on the Android platform where it is completely integrated, allowing you to initiate and receive calls exclusively on the Google Voice number, thereby pushing the traditional phone company into the background. As I wrote back then:

The app is so tightly enmeshed with Android OS and the address book and other apps, you hardly think that you’re using Google Voice. If Google bundles the Google Voice app with Android and sells it to makers of cheaper feature phones, it can start to insert itself between the consumers and wireless companies.

That said, when used on other platforms such as BlackBerry, Google Voice is marred by poor sound quality, especially as calls are routed from other numbers. I think that’s mostly because of the general degradation of voice on most networks, be they wired or not. Anyway if you want to try it out, visit Google Voice website.

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. i hope google succeeds in becoming a telephone company via the internet, as a cheap alternative to the monopoly of wireless companies who rip us off. wirelss is way over priced

  2. I wonder who kills more companies with their innovative products ? Apple or Google ? I guess it is Google. Apple has been unable to kill blackberry, nokia, Adobe yet, but Google will kill blackberry,nokia, GPS device makers ha ha. Apple unable to kill kindle as well despite all the successes of IPad, IPhone and IPod. Google is disruptor no. 1

  3. Saurabh Kaushik Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    Hope this gets go ahead in India as well. :)

  4. Awesome! I’m sick and tired of getting ripped off by cell phone co.s – overpriced contracts and overpriced text messaging – forced to use ATT……….I’ll use google instead for sure!

  5. I hope that this service is also available in Pakistan as well. like NSN was working in Pakistan. You can still find “NSN” application of facebook and you can call to any network with out even installing anything.

    I used it much but i am not sure weather it works now or not.

  6. Om wrote: That said, when used on other platforms such as BlackBerry, Google Voice is marred by poor sound quality, especially as calls are routed from other numbers.

    A GV call is not a pure IP call. I don’t understand how it would matter which platform is being used for Google Voice. The call is routed through regular phone lines regardless of which platform your smartphone is on. I have used GV on the Blackberry plenty of times with absolutely no difference between a GV call and a regular phone call.

Comments have been disabled for this post