After a long 20 months, Google took its purchase of Grand Central and launched it at Google Voice and added a nifty feature, voicemail transcription. When I heard the news I was curious as to what Jamie Siminoff of SimulScribe/PhoneTag thought about the news.
Jamie did not disappoint and came out swinging, explaining that Google can’t sustain the business of providing this free service which costs the company $60/year/customer. He argues that ads cannot pay for this service – no way, no how – it is just too much money.
He goes on to say that the Grand Central/Google Voice business model is flawed or at least will only appeal to a niche. He explains that in order to use the service you have to give everyone your new Google Voice number. Moreover when you call someone back from your cell they then call you back on your cell which defeats the whole premise of having people call you on your Google Voice number to begin with.
He also questions the accuracy of Google Voice voicemail transcription and I would tend to agree that for the moment PhoneTag will have better accuracy. Then again I have yet to be able to get to test the new service.
He goes on to ask if Google Talk killed Skype. It did not. Did Jaiku kill Twitter? Obviously not. He didn’t mention the search giant’s failed forays into newspaper advertising or radio but perhaps he didn’t want to overdo it.
Then again, Twitter and Skype were household names when Google came at them. Probably fewer than 1% of people have even heard of Spinvox or SimulScribe/PhoneTag.
But it all comes down to accuracy. If the paid services are much more accurate than Google Voice they will likely see a boost from the search leader’s entry into the space – especially from the business community. Assuming of course they step up their PR/marketing. I would certainly continue to pay for voicemail transcription if it is far more accurate than a free service and I am sure many others are like me.