Google and SayNow, What it Means To Telecom

The search leader made the acquisition in part to gain social network traction as well as to become entrenched as a communications API and service provider

Many surmise that part of the reason Larry Page is taking over the CEO role at Google has to do with the need to compete more effectively against Facebook whose growth in page views is nothing short of staggering. In the pursuit to keep up and surpass the social networking juggernaut, the search leader is throwing as many ideas as it can against the wall hoping something will stick. There was the launch of Google Buzz in February 2010 which has strong integration into the Google Reader. Then there was Google Wave which was sort of email meets wiki meets social networking which was quickly pulled. And then there was the addition of real-time search where Google could be used to keep track of Twitter and Facebook streams. And these are just some of the efforts the company has put forth in recent years.

In the last few weeks in an effort to improve usage of Google Voice, the company introduced number porting – one of the most sought after features as evidenced by how many requests I have heard.

The next step for Google Voice is quite clear as the search giant just acquired SayNow, a cross-platform mobile app which has an array of features – enough in fact to have attracted 15 million users and counting. The company proudly proclaims on its website it makes voice, social and fun. But more directly it does things like provide voice communities – the ability to provide recorded voice communications which are promoted via Twitter and FaceBook. For example, the NBA uses SayNow to connect fans with recorded messages from the likes of Bill Russell, Pao Gasol and Bill Walton.

In addition, the platform allows one-on-one conversations and group calls directly through social networks. In addition, there is an API allowing developers to build apps on top of the SayNow platform.

The biggest implication of this acquisition is not just the social networking expectations – allowing Google to hook into existing networks via voice but the open API. I have reached out to the company to learn more about the platform they use but haven’t heard back. I also reached out to Dialogic, Sangoma and Digium to see if their software and/or hardware is being used by the company and Dialogic couldn’t verify they are a customer. Sangoma hasn’t responded yet and Digium is fairly certain the company is not a customer but they could be using Asterisk without the company’s knowledge.

Some of the interesting applications built on top of the company’s platform are a conferencing application built by an intern in a week as well as voice broadcasts, two-way live video chat and a voice changing app.

The potential challenge for the traditional world of communications is Google taking this API and expanding it in a way that it becomes as useful as the Google Maps API which is used all over the web. This could be good for the company supplying technology to the company but perhaps bad for other companies competing in the space. I reached out to SayNow asking what platform they use and have yet to hear back so for now it is unknown what the long-term ramification of this deal are on communications development.

What is clear is developers are is moving to the cloud and next week at ITEXPO in Miami we are proud to have the brains behind Google Voice keynoting at the collocated StartupCamp 3 Comms Edition where the keynote will be given by Craig Walker, the co-founder and CEO of GrandCentral the Communications, the company purchased by Google to become Google Voice. In addition, on the judging panel will be Wesley Chan, the person who helped launch Google Analytics and Google Voice as well as Thomas Howe – the Voice Mashup guru. In addition, tech rock star Jamie Siminoff the founder or Simulscribe/PhoneTag will be on-hand to share his expertise and do some serious judging.

Finally, Alan Pound, the founder of Aculab and a telephony expert will be presenting a keynote which discusses a new offering, Aculab Cloud which brings the full power of communications into the cloud allowing you to leverage the full power of communications without all the bulky equipment. For those with interest, there will be a full Cloud Communications Summit at the show run by Thomas Howe as well.

One last point – Interactive Intelligence is sponsoring a panel and reception for Fortune 500 companies interested in cloud communications and cloud computing at ITEXPO on Tuesday, February 1, 2011. Finally, the company is also running a webinar on the cloud January 27, 2011 which you can register for now.

Hope to see you in Miami.

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