It's not even rolling out to everyone yet, but the Google Voice phone management application already has 1.42 million users, 570,000 of which use it daily, according to a letter Google sent to the Federal Communications Commission this week about its call-blocking behavior.
The version that eWEEK saw on the FCC's Website Oct. 29 was redacted, but Business Week unearthed the data point Oct. 30.
Google admitted it did this to thwart traffic-pumping phone porn and free conference call schemers seeking to leverage Google Voice, a free Web app that gives users one special number to ring and manage their home, work and mobile phones.
However, Google also asked that the Google Voice users number, as well as the names of third-party providers with whom Google has contracted to supply telecom inputs to support Google Voice, be redacted from the document to the FCC. In something of an embarrassing gaffe by Google on par with the Janet Jackson Wardrobe Malfunction, Google told me Oct. 30:
"Though we had intended to keep sensitive information regarding our partners and the number of Google Voice users confidential, the PDF submitted to the FCC was formatted improperly."
And presto, now we all know what Google didn't want us to know. Why doesn't Google want us to know that? According to its request for confidentiality:
"The information subject to this request is commercial information that Google customarily guards from competitors in the highly competitive market for Web-based applications."
BusinessWeek also said Google alludes to taking Google Voice beyond the United States, signing contracts with a number of "international service providers for inputs to Google Voice." Good for Google, I say. It needs to get international exposure to take off. That's what happened to Skype.
Google Voice has many, many miles to go before catching Skype's user base of 481 million, but 1.4 million users is not bad considering only a select few could use the application until June 25, when Google began rolling it out to more folks.
That's when Google opened up the select invite period, but things have been rocky since July, when Apple rejected Google Voice. As if that's not enough, AT&T sicced the FCC hounds on Google for blocking calls in September.
We're still waiting to see how that unfolds. Meanwhile, have you heard of VoxOx? It's also free to a degree, and then low cost, and provides the same functionality and more. It worked well in a demo I saw.
Of course, there is always the old school standby, Skype. The choices are varied, and all have something good to offer users.