Chris Kranky

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Port me up Scotty

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

GooglevoiceTechCrunch is reporting that Google is planning to add number portability to the Google Voice suite. Today when you sign up for Google Voice, you get a new phone number and in the future you may be able to "port" one of your own telephone numbers to work with Google Voice.

That's all well and fine, but I still struggle with just what the application is that I'm supposed to be using Google Voice for. When someone calls me, I want them to reach me, that simple. How do I do that today? Well — I give 'em my mobile number. I'm not likely to port my mobile number to Google (what for?). Perhaps Google doesn't realize that the number of wireline telephone numbers is dramatically decreasing as more household opt to go "wireless only".

I'm happy to have a trash telephone number. A telephone number you give out to people you really don't want to call you. I also use Google Voice as a free voice mail with unique transcripting service for my mobile (I just forward my mobile phone to Google Voice, so I don't have a need to port a number). There are probably other applications as well.

The problem is Google is a product shop, they don't explain or market to you what an actual application might me. They just put it up on the web and hope you figure it out. Email and search I understand. But Google Voice, what for and why?

Today, Google doesn't have my credit card, I don't pay them for anything, because everything is free, subsidized by the highly profitable search division. Clearly Google is going to have to get my credit card and charge me so they can increase revenues (with the launch of Bing – they can simply keep raising the prices to advertisers on search).  But to get my credit card, Google is going to have to sell me and market the capabilities of their wares to me and that's the challenge they face ahead.

Google is clearly incurring some costs for Google Voice, paying perhaps $0.10 to $0.25 a month for a telephone number and likely Level3 is sharing some of their termination revenues with Google as well (reducing this monthly cost). Porting the number will incur some additional costs likely $2-3 which will not significant, Google hasn't demonstrated they can profit from this service yet.

The jury is out, I remain unconvinced, but willing to listen.