This week the telecom new sites and bloggers have been abuzz with comments and insights regarding the Google announcement of "free" phone service for Gmail users. For those that have been on another planet this week, Google's new product will allow Gmail users are able to place free calls within the United States and Canada. The service is quite simple to activate. A phone call is started by selecting the "Call phone" option within the Gmail chat tool. The user then keys in a number or name from their contact list. The call is made and using the computer's mike and speaker or a headset, communication is enabled.
None of that is particularly innovative. Interest has been generated mostly through the decision not to charge for the service unless international calls are made. Obviously, this threatens the ILECs and they need to determine if the loss of consumers will be great enough to develop an appropriate response. However, it was a comment about current VoIP services not being "disruptive enough" that gained my attention.
Broadvox's SIP Termination, SIP Origination and SIP Trunking products were never meant to be "disruptive". Most ITSPs, like Broadvox, are offering a service that is cheaper than traditional TDM or POTS offerings from the ILECs and CLECs and doing so with a greatly improved level of quality versus simple VoIP. Some commentators believe phone companies should emulate the actions and business strategy of Google. That makes little to no sense. Google is a fine company but it generates it revenues based upon an advertising model. It can leverage those advertising revenues to engage in business models that do not make money. Consider that Gmail is really an advertising tool and even this new phone service is expected to store and analyze conversation for data mining and advertising opportunities. In a sense, Google leverages the same business model repeatedly to bring new products to market.
The new offering by Google is exciting and the IP community should monitor its progress closely. As phone companies examine how to evolve their offerings to support new communications applications and, more importantly, new usage patterns, they need to do so with an eye towards their existing business models and potential models.
However, we all cannot be in the business of selling ads.
See you on Monday!