Will the Last One to Leave GrandCentral Please Turn Out the Lights?

61 Comments

We’ve been worried about GrandCentral for a while now. The free service that promised “one number for life” started with such promise. And then Google (s goog) bought the company and the technology way back in July 2007…and they left it to rot. No new invites. Existing users have seen the service languish in maintenance mode since the acquisition. No updates. No new features or improvements. No word from the developers. Shame.

This morning, those of us still using a GrandCentral number are logging in to our accounts to see this:

grandcentral-cert

An expired SSL certificate is not a big deal. Just accept the expired certificate because you trust the site and move on. But that’s not the point. It’s yet more evidence that if the GrandCentral folks are still at Google, they’re working on something else. The GrandCentral support forum is filled with questions and problems, and there has been no official answer to anything.

The challenge for those of us left behind is number portability, or lack thereof. I like my GrandCentral number. It’s easy to remember. It’s in the area code I want it to be. I would gladly use another reasonably-priced service if I could take the number with me (I do use PhoneFusion for my local contacts). Yes, GrandCentral has always been “beta” and was never meant to be used for mission-critical contacts. But it’s a little difficult to “test” a service like GrandCentral without giving the number out to contacts, isn’t it?

It’s about time for Google to do the right thing. Shut GrandCentral down once and for all, and give us a way to port our numbers elsewhere.

61 Comments

Jillian Burke

yes it was outrage when I had to give up 212- Are You Kidding I said to the rep on the phone …: I tried to bribe her …
And I will say to you are you kidding…
“An expired SSL certificate is A big deal.” NEVER just accept the expired certificate because you trust the site and move on. Yes and I will more off point to say — look for EV SSL – the green url bar for the safer better times — even in the subway zone.

Peter Sisson

We can port your number to toktumi, which basically offers grandcentral type features combined with business-grade reliability and live customer support. We offer a 30 day free trial and include some cool things that grand central doesn’t have, like 20 person conferencing and an auto-receptionist. To take a look, just click on my name to be taken to our website.

Kevin

@Boris Mann The Voicemail label is reserved for voicemails left from the Google Talk client. If you go to a label and edit the URL with “Voicemail”, you can see that it shows these messages.

Chris

“It seems like GrandCentral would be a perfect fit for the Android OS for their mobile platform as well” – Dale

I would say Google’s history with software doesn’t bode well for Android, period. I’m sure they’ll lose interest in Android and move on to something else within the year.

Offbeatmammal

with GC falling by the wayside and Jaiku now “released to the open source model” I wonder how serious Google are about any communications model that they can’t directly mine and serve ads against.

While there is potential with both to deliver advertising I think Google are in the “one trick pony” mentality and unless they can monetize the one way they know how then they let it fall off the radar and hope no-one notices them doing evil by ommission.

Right now a great low cost communications platform would be a great play – Skype + GC + Gmail would be a fantastic platform against (say) Exchange / Outlook and OCS but I don’t think Google have the same vision that the folks in Redmond have

Dale

It seems like GrandCentral would be a perfect fit for the Android OS for their mobile platform as well

Boris Mann

My long ago suspicions were merging of GC functionality directly into Gmail.

For instance, try and create a label named “Voicemail” in Gmail right now. Doesn’t work. Hmmmm……

Any merge / rollout of that nature would take a LONG time. I hope I’m right…

Ken Camp

Sadly, as one of the early adopters who really promoted GrandCentral, I lost faith long ago. Craig and Vincent both quit responding to both email and phone calls of any kind after the Google acquisition. It’s nice to see that Vincent did come comment here. I’ve seen that as the kiss of death for GC long ago.

While I was one of the first to use GrandCentral as my “one number for life” I gave up and abandoned all faith. I closed my account and walked away so I didn’t get burned in their slide into the abyss. I did the online video and podcasts at ETel that helped them gain a ton of visibility.

It’s a dismal failure of Google, and I’m sad to see it go, but GrandCentral slid into the deadpool long ago.

@davidpogue isn’t a 2.0 release at this point absurd? I’m sorry but if Google can’t figure out how to integrate in that period of time, they’re either incompetent or they really didn’t care about or understand what they had? I believe the latter. Google is slipping badly and GC is just one more example of Google’s slide to mediocrity.

Gary

If they are still at it, then how come the Grandcentral blog hasn’t been updated since April, 2008!

Todd

I ported my GC number to Callcentric about a year ago.

On the form, I used my username for account number and printed out a screen that listed my email from GC for the “statement.” Took a couple weeks, no sweat.

Brian

GC is the one Google product I use every freakin’ day. Please don’t let it die!

Chris

@ David Pogue: I enjoyed your demo of GrandCentral at the ASTD TechKnowledge conference in San Antonio last year – shame your MacBook died and you had to present on (horror!) a WinDell machine (using – ugh! – PowerPoint). A presenter’s nightmare no human should have to endure.

Sadly, GrandCentral never allowed me into their holy circle of beta testers – it’s nice to hear that it’s alive and well. Maybe.

MardeeT

This SSL issue may be a blessing in disguise for GC users! If it gets enough bad PR, it may push Google or GC staff to update us on what is going on. I do know they are working on it. It’s common practice when Google acquires an entity that it cleans up its code after going through a long interrogation process to meet google methodolgy standards. I look forward to some advancements in GC soon, but hopefully this small but huge SSL issue raises some flags. I don’t think it looks good for a Google entity to have slipped up like this. Its small but a big PR thing.

Sean Eby

We’ve used GrandCentral for our startup and had good success. I hear everyone’s concern so I might suggest using RingCentral.com, which is a pay-for service that offers even more of what GC has. At least they are a business actually profiting and supporting the very thing that they’re selling so you might consider trying them if you’re concerned about the risk of service outages or Google completely turning GC off.

Judi Sohn

@Matt, I know an expired certificate is no big deal. But when you combine it with the lack of updates and lack of communication, it looks bigger than it is.

@David, nice to see you commenting here! You have way more information here than I do, so I’m relieved to hear that it’s not dead. Can’t wait to see what version 2.0 is all about. But I don’t think we should be hearing this from an in-the-know journalist in a comment on WebWorkerDaily. Why isn’t anyone from Google taking the time to reassure all those customers in their support forum who are wondering what’s going on? Don’t they deserve that?

Jeffrey

That’s right, everybody, nothing to see here, the PR people are telling us there’s nothing to be concerned about.

david pogue

You’ve got it wrong. Everyone from GrandCentral still works on GrandCentral, and the 2.0 version is imminent.

A PR guy explained to me that it’s taken a year to merge the GrandCentral servers with Google’s, but they’re nearly done.

–Pogue

Chris

Google is becoming like Microsoft in many ways, not the least of which is its increasingly short attention span and lack of focus. I’m worried.

Methinks it best not to become dependent on any single non-search-related Google service (Notebook, GrandCentral, Lively, etc.). Or to even start using them at all.

Pick a solid alternative (like Evernote) and pray Google doesn’t buy them and let them shrivel and die on the vine.

I hope there’s a brash challenger in the wings ready to take on the Googles and Microsofts of the world. Google used to be that brash challenger, but now that they’re sitting on top of the heap, they’re becoming fat and soft and arrogant and complacent. Just like Microsoft.

Brandon J. Mendelson

I am a bit concerned, having been on GC for over a year. The service still works (thankfully), but I would be disappointed to lose my number and have to pay for the exact same service via another provider.

I am optimistic though when it comes to Google though, hopefully they can just roll GC into Gmail and their video conferencing software and get on with whatever transition they are planning.

Matt Cutts

I wouldn’t take an expired certificate as some sort of larger message–they do happen from time to time (e.g. I think this happened to AdWords at one point). It looks like someone has already reported this to the right group at Google to renew the certificate.

Jonathan Hollander

I am with PhoneFusion. We are able to port your GrandCentral number to PhoneFusion. Just email us to support at phonefusion.com and we will be happy to assist you with this.

Tom

I have been an ardent user of GrandCentral for the plus for a long time now, and I have been giving the number out to everyone. Uh oh.

This is the second time in two weeks that Google may rain on my parade, and I think I finally may be learning my lesson.

After Google stopped support on Notebook last week – a service that I really liked – it maid me realize that thinking that a Google division could go on forever. Not so obviously.

I work with a lot of services with most of my information online – I thought that was the way of the future. If one of those companies shutters their doors, then what?

I would gladly pay for a service like Google Notebook (I do now for Evernote) and GrandCentral.

Tom N

Russ

I use GrandCentral as my primary phone number have for the last 18 months or so.

I love the service and have come to depend on it for my daily voice communications.

Yes, I realized I was assuming some risk with its “beta” tag, but I’d hoped that the Google acquisition would have minimized this risk.

Apparently, this isn’t the case.

I’m amazed at Google’s and GC’s lack of communication about *anything* going on with the service.

I did see this recently (http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2009/01/grandcentral-in-spain.html) but the lack of communication has me worries about long-term use of GrandCentral.

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