There have been many failed challengers to eBay’s (EBAY) VOIP service Skype. And, even as Google (GOOG) registers a million or so phone numbers in preparations to launch Google Voice beyond a private beta, we’re sceptical it will knock Skype out. But we at least hope it forces Skype to make some improvements it should have made a long time ago.
(Such as rolling out idiotic eBay-like community services in an attempt to create synergies to justify the merger).
Channel Web is more optimistic about Google Voice’s chances, and makes the case in five points. We’ve paraphrased them here:
- Routing: Google Voice allows users customise how their calls are routed. The Google Voice number acts as a primary number, and calls (from individuals or groups) to that number can be routed to mobile phones, landlines and voice mailboxes.
- Screening: With Google Voice a user has four options on what to do with an incoming call – answer, send to voicemail, send to voicemail while listening to the message being left, or answer and record the conversation about to happen. While these options, along with the caller’s name, is presented to the user, the caller hears ringing.
- Transcribed voicemail: Google Voice can transcribe voicemails and send them to the user via email or text messaging. The transcription service is not free. The audio files of voicemail are also saved and accesible online.
- Switching between calls: WIth Google Voice, the star key is all you need to switch between calls. Hitting the star key will not interrupt the current call, but will cause other connected phones to ring. The user can decide what to do with the current and incoming calls while talking.
- The Google muscle: No explanation necessary.