Will Google Voice create barriers for Android?
Google dominates the web and is trying to ensure its dominance spreads to mobile Internet too. The Google Voice announcement is step towards this goal.
Since last week an intense debate has been going on across the telecom world about Google Voice, aimed at disrupting the telecom and Internet industry: A bunch of Internet phones and messaging services are christened as Google Voice. Actually a Googly remix of GrandCentral, a start up it bought in 2007.
The debate is that how would this impact the carrier business? I guess the bigger question is that how would this impact Google’s most awaited innovation in the Telecom business – The Google Android Operating System?
So far, the only luck Google Android has had is globally tying up with unlucky Motorola; in return Motorola has announced focusing only on Android Platform. Overall Google hasn’t had much luck getting the most important U.S. phone companies (since US market is ahead on the adoption curve) to sell Android phones. The G1 from T-Mobile has not been a resounding success as Apple’s products.
I believe carriers should be happy with Google Voice, as it will reinforce their focus on data usage by consumers, Google Voice still forces consumers to use their phone, and arguably makes it easier to use a fixed line and cellphone. So if the drop in fixed line revenues is a concern, with this and awareness of Internet on Mobile/Phones, consumer’s contribution to data usages will only increase.
While at some stage like in US today, Google may threaten to eat into local airtime revenues, and provide cheaper packages for International and National calls. But still consumers would need to subscribe to cellphone (or fixed line) service, and use the air time which consumers pay for. The chances are that this service will increase consumer’s data usage on the carrier roll.
I feel Google perforce is antagonizing the operators and forcing them to innovate their business model. The past has made it clear that the carriers like to run businesses within protected walls, otherwise why is Ebay’s Skype not one of the standard offering on handsets/service networks?
Would Google voice make carriers vary of Android? I guess the answer is not simple, while consumers may push for Android based devices, Carriers would reinvent the rules of the games to operate in their walled garden.
With Google Voice’s introduction one thing is for sure; Google is ensuring that its dominance spreads to the mobile Internet.