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Is the hoopla around Google Voice warranted?

It might seem curmudgeonly of me to say this, but I am baffled by the attention generated by Google’s announcement that they will add voice calling to Gmail. Granted, merging the voice mail box and the email box is a very friendly move for users.  Allowing an immediate follow up to an email, via voice, is also a nice usability feature.  Aren’t these staples of modern day unified communications systems?

Google Voice doesn’t often show up on my radar any more.  It’s not available to those of us who live north of the 49th parallel, so I don’t use it.  That’s a shame.  If Google Voice did supply service here, I would surely take advantage of all of its super cool features like call screening, one number, voice transcription and more. For reasons that are unclear to me, though, especially since Google offers unlimited calls to the United States and Canada, Canadians don’t have access.  Maybe it’s payback for the defeat of the US Men’s Hockey Team at the Olympics?  Who knows?!  That’s as good a theory as any, I suppose.

These days, if I want one-click calling from within email, I turn to Skype.  And perhaps that’s the reason Google is adding these features to Gmail now – Skype already has them, and word on the street is that Skype and Google are headed for a showdown.

Skype also has a global international network, that includes Canada.

So how about it, Team Google? Whaddya say?

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Ken Camp August 25, 2010, 12:50 pm

    I tweeted a reply, but thought I'd comment too. Like, you, I've lost GV off my radar even though we've had it and used it for years. I'm the one who videocast Craig's presentation at ETel back in 2006 and back then, I felt like I brought a lot of visibility to something innovative and new.The problem is, other than swapping out the logo, there's been zero gain since then. None.

    Sadly GV is suffering from the malaise that is Google IMHO. Boring and aiming at safe mediocrity. That's become the Google culture. I think it's why Wave flopped. It's why I think Buzz is a fizzle. And it's permeating everything Google touches.

    Not sure what's to be done to stop the slide, but waving the Google flag and making noise because it's from Google simply isn't enough to make a boring announcement innovative, new or worthwhile. But maybe that's just me.

    It is a good example of why I write so much less these days. It isn't that I'm less engaged, but I am far less impressed with most of what I see going on in the sector. Or maybe it's just being a curmudgeon after all. 😉

    • Aswath Rao August 25, 2010, 1:31 pm

      As I have been trying to point out that there is no technological innovation here. The browser plug-in was already there for the use of GTalk and video chat. They have basically interconnected GTalk and GV in the backend and have added DTMF tone generation capability to the Gtalk client.

      My focus is on what is possible. Supposing they include the plug-in into the main browser code so it becomes a base capability. Now think that this they do for all the platforms, including Android and Chrome OS. Now we have a interoperable client across multiple platforms. This would be a major step forward for V/VoIP.

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