News Analysis: Why would Google want to acquire Skype when it already has a VOIP application? The fact is, Google Voice and Skype are not yet direct competitors, but Google is enriching its application and could put it on a collision course with Skype. Google Voice could be linked with Google Talk to approximate Skype's PC calling services. Google also offers video chat via Gmail, which could theoretically be added to any VOIP platform Google was considering.
announced Sept. 1 that it was selling off 65 percent of VOIP giant Skype,
York Times reported that Google was one of the losing bidders
Silver Lake Partners and other investors.
What's interesting about that idea is that Google already has a Web calling
application in Google Voice. Why would Google want to acquire Skype when it
already has a voice-over-IP application?
Google Voice and Skype may not yet be direct competitors, but Google is
enriching the application and could put it on a collision course with Skype,
particularly if it integrated Google Voice with other existing Google Web
Google Voice is not a VOIP application the way Skype is. When a user
installs Skype on his computer, he may use it to call another computer, land line
or mobile phone. He can also trigger video calls between computer users and
send SMS (Short Message Service) messages. Skype also offers international
calls at a lower rate than phone providers, a service that helped attract many
of Skype's 481 million worldwide users.
Google Voice gives users a phone number that can forward calls to any other
number they want, including home, office and mobile numbers. Google Voice will
route incoming calls through to all of these numbers to find the user. Users
can also dial out via Google Voice, designating the phone on which they will
take the call along with the number they want to dial.
"The goal of Google Voice is to provide you with a tool that lets you
control all of your phones," a Google spokesperson told eWEEK recently.
"We want Google Voice to be endpoint-agnostic ... to work with any
endpoint but be able to manage and control your voice communications based on
the devices you're already using."
If the user doesn't pick up, Google Voice takes a voice message, which can
be transcribed into text automatically and sent to the user via SMS or e-mail.
Users can also listen to messages by logging into the Google Voice Website or
clicking a link in the notification e-mail. Google also just added the ability
to receive and reply to SMS messages via e-mail.
And, like Skype,
Google Voice lets users initiate low-cost international calls.
"Google Voice is not a VOIP client
in the traditional sense,
unlike Skype or Gizmo," eWEEK's Andrew Garcia wrote Aug. 3. "Because
Google Voice forwards calls everywhere, the service will use VOIP to route
calls around Google's network, but all calls will hop off to the PSTN [Public
Switched Telephone Network] or cell networks to find the callers at the
Google Voice and Skype are different, but this isn't a case of comparing
apples with oranges so much as a case of comparing McIntosh apples with Granny
Smith apples. Both are calling services and both have tradeoffs. Skype goes the
extra mile by calling computers and phone numbers directly. But Skype doesn't
have automatic transcription to voice mail and other features unique to Google