iPhone Users Won’t Care Much About Google Voice

November 22, 2010

in iphone, Skype + VoIP

Google Voice came to the iPhone last week. After a few posts it was just a little blip. Today it doesn’t feature in most downloaded or what’s hot in the App store and I’m not surprised. GoogleVoice remains US centric and relevant to a small cadre of users. So the big question is… should you care if you are an iPhone user? Is GV likely to change the mobile experience? Will it ever be a success?

My view… Google Voice simply isn’t very interesting to the majority of iPhone users and is more irrelevant each day. There are some tricks it can help you do – Voice Mail to Text, A second line or number, low cost international calls etc. But for the most part these aren’t that interesting and compelling. The biggest feature  is  better “call screening” and after working on a number of call filtering solutions it too turns out to be more complicated than welcomed. Additionally Google Voice uses up your “minutes” and for many this whole dialing thing is complicated or just plain weird. (See this write-up.) Same for SMS messages.

I’ve been a Google Voice fan. It’s replaced my home number and that rings multiple cell phones and sends Voice Mail as transcribed text messages etc. I use Google Voice with Gizmo to enable the “number” PSTN like in the home. (See this post and the linksys PAPT box).  One downside, calling home from a designated device tends not to work very well (effectively calling yourself). Still it is a great example and perhaps the best reason to still consider that Google Voice number for your iPhone. Why? Think doctor, think school, think bank. In fact think any service and form that still wants the “home number” and has it as a mandatory field.

Yet beyond the VM to text and the “home” idea, I’m unsure why I’d really to get excited about yet another number for my iPhone. I do have it hooked up. Yet it creates another long term problem for me. It’s either a second number (what’s the filtering purpose?) or a new primary number (why should I trust them and would I really ever want to forward my mobile and tell everyone I have  a new number?). And will it replace my business number? It has for some and the service according to Techcrunch today is – up and down.

Frankly I think the whole Google Voice get another number is becoming a fiction. Which tends to put Ribbit in the same basket. It was neat about 3to 5 years ago when emergent and when VoIP in the pocket seldom worked. Today, providing an extra number is simply obsolete. Apple demonstrated (like Phonegnome before) how FaceTime could enable VoIP calls without creating any new identifiers. That’s the future. There’s also another discussion going around now around SIM cards. That’s just another twist on who owns the numbering rights. The real question is… as a user where are the filters. They tend to be at the directory level and text level. It’s voice mail that really created this mess.

So if Google Voice wants any chance re success they must – enable a world where any identifier and internet enabled device I choose is a potential end point.  Fact is they already have much of this. You can video call with your gmail account and the same will now tie into Google Voice etc. If you have a gizmo account you can potentially route those calls to your iphone using another App.

IPhone users in particular have so many different identifiers that can contact or send notifications that “numbers” seem sort of irrelevant. It’s from Twitter, facebook, email x y or z. What matters is the simplicity which these services / notifications can escalate when appropriate to “talking” or video.

I’m always going to be in charge. I don’t have to answer the call, accept the video or even look at my email.

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