2009-05-17

The Next Great Thing: iPhone, Google, and VoIP

This spring Google is transitioning its telecom service "Grand Central" to "Google Voice", a service that promises to tie together telephone, voicemail, email, video, and chat into a single service. It promises to be like Skype, GMail, Video Mail and traditional telecom all rolled into one.

It just also happens that Apple is working on iPhone OS v3.0. iPhone 3.0 offers a lot of new internals to the iPhone, but with no single "huge, new" feature. Rumor also has it that Apple is planning for the next generation of iPhones and perhaps new iPods.

So I'm going to go out on a limb and speculate that these events are coupled. The seamless convergence of a modern, comprehensive telecom service coupled with an internationally available handset will be a killer app. And AT&T will be on board, as this will sell tons of service.

Imagine the features:
  • One device for all communications.
  • A single mailbox.
  • Voicemail is just another type of mail.
  • Videomail is just another type of mail.
  • SMS is just another type of mail.
  • Labeling rules, as seen on Gmail, organizes your mail, can trigger alerts, etc.
  • VoIP is on-par with traditional telecom voice services, with one difference: incredibly low price per call and no need for a traditional telephone number.
  • Location-awareness mail
  • Voice-to-text and text-to-voice services for all mail, as already seen in several Google services.
I don't see all these features coupled together in the iPhone 3.0 Beta. But I do see all the infrastructure to pull this off: Google Voice, iPhone 3.0 APIs, plus some new Apple, AT&T, or Google-provided apps are enough to get the job done. iPhone 3.1 will seal the deal.

So there you have it - convergence of telecom on a grand scale, and dragging the big telecom providers into the 21st century by level-setting voice with video and internet services.

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