Monday, 16 March 2009

Google Voice. Now how bad is this for British mobile businesses?

Answer – it’s not, cos it irrelevant to us, DUH

I should know, cos I run HulloMail and here’s how it looks to me…

Wisdom of crowds? I think not.

So, how many monkeys does it take to get a 20/20 view on Google’s Voice Service?

Here in the UK it looks like crowdsourcing aint the answer if even a blog scrum on Techmeme can’t see the wood for the trees.

Problem is you can’t map a US solution to a Non-US context and expect it to work.

Why not?

Why not? Cos it’s a solution to their problems and not ours – it’s a superb example of what I call ‘the fallacy of misplaced solutions’.

What does this mean? Quite literally – it’s a solution ok, but a solution that’s misplaced – ie ‘out of place’ here in the UK

What I mean is, if you’re stateside then you PAY TO RECEIVE CALLS . So let’s take their universal number for all your life and after concept – OK – so from now on your mum calls this number which then calls you – right so how does that get billed then?

Over here mobile has developed with different infrastructure, business models, usage patterns and its our main comms line with the world. So the universalist approach that works for Google in search (ie everyone everywhere searches for stuff and you can advertise to them and build a universal solution on the back of that) won’t work for mobile.

Global is the new local

“A number for life”
– It’s been a number of years since UK phone users have enjoyed the freedom of moving between networks whilst keeping their number. People can already opt for a mobile number for life, without having to change it now.

“All change?” – Some say Google Voice is an attack on Skype; I have all my mates’ contacts already in Skype, and Skype is damn good - we use between mates and customers. Why would anyone now move across to Google and give up your skype ID?

“One number for all devices” –. I have a lot of American friends, and some do like the utility belt with multiple devices. So with Google Voice they can now take some time to set up rules for which device is called when, and for how long, until it eventually hunts you down. My big question is though - how many users in the UK have multiple devices for calling, texting and email anyway? For those of us in the UK that do have multiple mobile phones, there is a reason for it – we want you to have one number or the other! Do we really want all of those calls coming into one place?

“Free calls?” – I’ve already touched on this but by using Google’s new “number for life and after life”, all calls to your mobile will be indirect and made by Google. This works stateside because it’s the recipient that pays for their incoming calls, but in the UK as well as the rest of the civilized world, it is the calling party that pays the charge! So will your wife / girlfriend / kids that have free minutes to your mobile now lose these? How will Google accommodate free inclusive minutes different numbers with their current pricing regime? Who will pay for the call forwarding charge between your universal number and your mobile.!???

“Your email” – Many would say I’m obsessed with turning voicemail into email, so I’m absolutely flummoxed that Google have not fully integrated voicemails into GMAIL, and instead use another inbox! Man are they now so big its takes them two years to do something simple – how are they going to keep up with the fast-paced internet world? If you’re with Hotmail or Yahoo!, you’re out of luck, or is it time to change your email address too?

Fear and loathing?

So is this just so predictable, the old ‘he would say this anyway wouldn't he’ syndrome?

Aren’t I just another grandiose CEO of pinprick start-up that quivers after the Deathstar drops its payload?

Like – hello, no way dude! I've got the R&D team flat out right now working on a search engine.

7 comments:

almost witty said...

Slightly ironic that you're using Google products to make that blogpost. ;)

And while I agree with all your sentiments about the current state of play, if Google actually decided to wade into the European telecoms industry and absorb the costs (doing the opposite of Twitter) then it'd be an interesting marketplace. After all, I can already SMS people in the US, and Google absorbes the (assumed) costs.

Either way, good luck!

HulloMail said...

its going to be a challenge ;)

'sein said...

I have to get a new number for Google Voice, and with that I completely dismissed it. I'm pretty sure I'm with over 99% of the rest of the UK when it comes to that same question so I can't see it taking off here.

Jimmy said...

I use HulloMail, and it's a great product. However your reaction is common among people in the telecomms industry.

I work for a major global telco and the denial is palpable. The people I work with flatly dismiss VOIP, saying the lack of QOS renders it merely a sideshow. Like you have done, they ask questions like 'Would you be satisfied if the call were to drop?' or 'Well, if you can live with a crackling line then...?'.

This is the wrong attitude. I agree with most of your comments regarding the differences between the UK and the States. However, it is my belief that it is best to not fight the winds of change but to accept them.

If I were a Google exec, I would look at your list of questions and see them as a challenge. I believe we need them in the UK, if only to shake up the market and make current suppliers more innovative.

I don't suppose Hullo Mail want to offer the service to the UK before Google wade in? Get your hand in your pocket.

And your point about the new number, in your contacts you can have work contacts routed to your work phone via your GVoice number and friends to your personal account. If you lost one of your phones you can re-route to your other number. And if someone calls you on your old mobile phone number, it will still ring.

Good luck with the search engine and thanks for the great visual voicemail service.

Tim said...

multiple devices - it's not just about multiple mobiles. It includes landlines, VoIP devices etc.

A lot of people will see value in having a single number that calls their mobile during the day and landline in the evening, and perhaps without having to give out your home phone number.

Personally I have an Orange mobile account generally but need to use Vodafone for work purposes and it is a major pain as I have to forward calls from Orange to Vodafone and cannot forward SMS which Google Voice would allow me to do. Voicemail goes to whichever service is active so some is on Orange and some is on Vodafone.

Travelling abroad I might use a local SIM for cheaper calls also, but forwarding from Orange would be billed at international mobile rates (£1.10 a minute for US!). If Google Voice provides a single number that I can receive at local rates in US that would be great. Though VoIP for me does something similar, just it doesn't give me the single number for all devices so it's yet another number to give out to people and say "between this time and date, call this number" which is hassle.

Keeping your phone number is possible in the UK but only works for mobiles unless you move to within the same STD code area and even then it causes problems if you drag a landline number between operators. Mobile number porting is hassle and involves a battle with operator retention departments.

A single SMS number that forwards to any device is the killer feature for me though. I'm prepared to pay for it even (within reason).

daverage said...

The big feature you missed out is the voice to text transcription.
This is the feature I most want, hell if hullomail did that it would be perfect in every way!!

ankush deol said...
This comment has been removed by the author.