For several months, and particularly after BT's acquisition of Ribbit, telecom industry observers have been wondering what was happening with Grand Central, the voice applications start-up acquired by Google almost two years ago, and whose future promise seemed to get lost amid a pile of other Google ambitions. Well, today Google re-launched an expanded version of Grand Central's offerings as Google Voice, a service integrating flexible Internet-based voice calling and routing features, voice mail, text messaging and other applications. For now, it's available on a limited basis to existing Grand Central customers.
Unlike other VoIP and Internet-based voice applications, Google Voice is based on a centralized voice calling and messaging system that enables users to use any phone to call into a system that allows them to initiate other calls and functions. The offering is being seen as a challenge to Skype, though it also ups the competitive ante for telcos and other voice service providers that have been exploring new ways to offer voice or to integrate it with other applications.
- The New York Times has this story
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