Google (GOOG) has discovered an easy way to get free advertising for its Google Voice Internet phone service: Give TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington early access to features that normal people can’t have, and get a big, sloppy kiss in return!
Arrington’s latest love letter to Google Voice was published yesterday: “How I Learned To Quit The iPhone And Love Google Voice.”
In it, he recaps how he dumped his iPhone for a Google Android-based phone, and how he has since ported over his iPhone’s old number to Google Voice.
Sounds cool! But this isn’t a feature that just anyone can get access to yet. Arrington is “one of the first people to port their phone number to Google Voice, and there are always a few hiccups when you’re a guinea pig.”
Reporters usually get to try stuff out shortly before it’s available to the public. We’re no stranger to the process of borrowing product review units gratis for a few weeks before mailing them back. (That’s how Arrington got his Android phone, too.)
But this seems like a special deal — a press preview for one. We haven’t seen any other tech writers boasting about their “guinea pig” status as recipients of number portability from Google Voice. (And we certainly weren’t invited to participate in the program!)
It is hard to be objective when you’re treated like you’re super-special — which is why companies like Google and Apple go to such great lengths to treat some reporters specially (and it’s why some reporters refuse to play ball with this). And it’s also why companies often revoke that special status instantly if you say something they don’t like.
Meanwhile, Google Voice’s other customers will have to wait. “Although you can’t currently port your existing number to Google Voice, we hope to offer this option in the near future,” a Google support page says.
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