With the recent announcement by Skype to have an open SIP Gateway (well its in beta) the door is now wide open for a direct route of calls coming to your Google Voice number to be routed directly into the Skype SIP gateway and to ring your Skype ID. All Google Voice has to do is turn that on and become interoperable with Skype directly, the same way Nimbuzz, Truphone and others have already become.
Let me lay out what this would mean:
1. Google Voice becomes THE defacto switchboard with numbers everywhere added and sold by them. There is less to no more need for a SkypeIn number or anyone else's for that matter. Luca points out how this can be done today via Gizmo and OpenSky.
2. You no longer need to buy Skype Out. You simply bridge your calls between Google Voice making the outbound leg of the call (at lower rates than Skype) to your Skype ID. Currently I bridge from Google Voice to a Skype In Number and this works perfectly.
3. Skype has already pledged and argued for openness, what are they going to do, all of a sudden go down the path of Open being the New Closed, a point Michael Robertson of Gizmo has raised concerns about previously, who's service by the way already peers with Google Voice (thank you very much to the person who caused that to happen--Me!!!!) Robertson basically says Skype speak with forked tongue in his post on VoIPWatch earlier this year.
4. The SIP gateway play for business from Skype is designed to work with big SIP based networks. Gee, what is Google Voice if not that.
So lets think about this..400 million users on Skype or so all getting calling paid from Google. Price of calling is already down to almost nothing. Now go to a country where 3 is the carrier buy a Skype Phone, add a pay as you go data plan and receive calls for free that are bridge by Google. Ingenious. Today you can already make calls using Skype Out for now as part of your unlimited plan and pay for it . Or...tomorrow via the Web browser on the mobile phone and Google Voice's directory web page you can initiate a call to the Skype ID and it rings on your phone. At no cost to you or if you are international at really lower than Skype rates from Google Voice. Wild!!!
Now lets go one step further and be really disruptive. Get a Google Android G1 with Google Voice call bridging that will do the same thing as Skype on 3 and make calls using Google Voice minutes provided by Google. In those countries where the calling party pays the value remains with Google. They will work the deals ala Skype and 3 to drive the sale of more data plans (even pay as you go works great on 3 here in the UK). But with a simple app that ties your browser to your Google Voice directory you'll be able to make calls bridged between the outbound legs being made by Google Voice to your Skype ID on the SkypePhone like I do today, or to your Android G1 via whatever client they put on it that acts like VoIP but brings the call in via the cell phone's circuit switched network. With Googles clout and reach that far out weighs eBay and Skype, plus carriers are more willing to work with Google than they are with Skype, the game starts to get very interesting.
Now lets go over to your home or office and go with termination of the calls to a landline, wireline or IP line. Call it what you want to. Google Voice needs to add a SIP destination capability like they have done with Gizmo, and then all of those calls go for free to SIP end points, just as they do to DIDs of the older Circuit Switched nature. Now, if more calls go all SIP the need for DID's may drop off over time, but telephone numbers still remains important because people still call numbers so Google Voice really is the Grand Central Station of the telco world. All this creates incredible value for companies in the middle. Companies in the federation space, peering business and which are 2.0 app friendly all of a sudden become the main gatekeepers to IP voice traffic. Companies like clients VoxBone and xConnect come to mind here, as does IntelePeer and even Neustar. They keep things moving, while Google Voice does the pointing and the on-netting.
But back to Skype. Poor Skype just lost value with this. You see, Skype built a model based on claims of calls between Skype ID's being free. They have regularly claimed to be open. With SIP traffic piped in from Google Voice the lions share of the money goes to Google as Skype becomes nothing but a dumb pipe, and given what difference the amount of acquisition was for GrandCentral vs. Skype, it's clear who rang up the better deal.
So with all this, it's time to see who flinches first. Google or Skype? From where I'm sitting it seems the Three Wise Men of Google Voice (Wesley, Craig and Vincent) now have the big rig rolling along the information super-hiway with a lot of weight in the back (Google ad dollars, pipe, dark fiber, bandwidth, free ad visibility, many happy users) making it time to see what kind of Cirque de Soleil balancing act the new corporate and well manicured team running the show at Skype tries to pursue, now that they've walked blindly into the SIP alley, not at all prepared for a street fight.
P.S. For transparency sake I was a shareholder in GrandCentral. The earn out is now complete so I no longer have a "vested" interest in what they do. I've also sold my eBay stock too.