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Mask and Gun or Just Very Smart?

Florian Seroussi is saying Google Voice is a Missed Robbery Attempt along the information highway. I'll call that "highway robbery" as his post today is very thought provoking but as a former sports guy, and being it's football season, I'd say GoogleVoice really is all about splitting the seams and throwing a touchdown when the opposition is bigger, better and stronger, but not as fleet a foot. Or to put it in hockey parlance, they went around the defense when the defensemen were caught flatfooted.

Google Voice, like Skype takes advantage of IP packets and networks, that despite being limited in the USA of who provides access, once you're on, tends to be like the wild, wild West. It's a free for all and both Google and Skype know how to navigate packets around it very, very well.

The "company stores" meaning Verizon, AT&T, Qwest and others all charge rates they set, and really if you look at mobile overall they seem to all charge the same, for about the same services, features and even for the most part, coverage. They offering you nothing new until they're ready to, and for the most part give very average customer service.

Then along comes the disruptors. GrandCentral which disrupted termination; Skype which disrupted both origination and termination, as well as just hijacking minutes overall, Gizmo which did the same as Skype and even to Skype, without as much hoopla, but every bit of the same logic as others.

Each one has at some point likely had a conversation or two with Biz Dev folks at the major USA carriers, offering them the chance for some type of relationship. Each has likely shown how they can do more for the carrier or Mobile Network Operator and their customer and each has likely walked out saying "they just don't get it."

So they go it alone, figure out how to do it on their own, and when enough minutes get diverted, someone at the carrier/MNO wakes up and yells "we're getting beaten and these guys are doing it with our networks." That's when the fun begins and is what we're seeing now.

I would contend that AT&T had as much of an opportunity to embrace GrandCentral, and actually, had much of what GC was providing with CallVantage, before the boys in Texas, from SBC killed it.

1) It was a one number solution BEFORE GrandCentral was even alive

2) It offered one number to multiple destinations BEFORE GrandCentral was even alive

3) It offered Do Not Disturb and Number blocking BEFORE GrandCentral was even alive

4) It used VoIP to carry the traffic, using other carriers networks BEFORE GrandCentral was even alive

5) It provided the ability to dial in and hear you voice mail, from anywhere BEFORE GrandCentral was even alive

6) It delivered your voice mail to email BEFORE GrandCentral was even alive

7)They had begun offering a softclient for use on a PC BEFORE GrandCentral or GoogleTalk with voice was even alive

8) They had the ability to bridge calls ala GoogleVoice BEFORE GrandCentral was even alive

So, to go one step farther, AT&T had so much of what GoogleVoice is today, and a massive head start long before GrandCentral became even a dream of Craig and Vincent's as they were still at Yahoo having sold DialPad when CallVantage was launched.

Had AT&T not abandoned CallVantage the way it did, (and is now starting up another VoIP project that will basically do the same thing I hear) but instead looked at how it could blend the services of CallVantage with their then small mobile network they would have had something unduplicated at the time and likely still unduplicated today. But like so many mistakes, AT&T sold off perhaps at the time, the most advanced technically mobile network to Cingular, which then became AT&T Mobility post SBC merger, and at the same time cut the balls off of CallVantage, eliminating all marketing and further technical development. Had the vision of what the AT&T Labs guys had likely seen, the combination of software as a service in the cloud of CallVantage, with the most advanced mobile network in the USA (after all of Cingular/AT&T Mobility had caught up--which it is still trying to do) there wouldn't be a GrandCental/Google Voice vs. AT&T battle. And what's more, it would have forced the other mobile operators to go along and work to bring more GV/GC like services to market sooner. This is no different than what the then TimeWarner Cable execs did to AOL's VoIP offering, basically telling the AOL executives you will not have a voice play because it will cut into TimeWarner Cable's attempts to start selling voice too. Like with AT&T the currently in power executives at the top won the battles, not because of anything more than fear that someone would do better with less than they could do with more.

I'm sorry, Florian, and all those who take the view of this being a robbery attempt, or as I call it "highway robbery." It was simply the fact that instead of wanting to offer the public better options, which they would likely pay for, the carriers in the USA simply want us all to make do with lousy coverage, poor call quality, less than available and desired features and most of all higher prices than we need to pay. Instead of looking at Google and GoogleVoice as the enemy, they should figure out how to make things work better with them, and share in the pie that's out there, instead of wanting it all, and just lining the pockets of lawyers, lobbyists and investment bankers.


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Rumor is AT&T is working with HD voice in San Antonio; just doing Yet Another VoIP service won't win back customers currently in the calbe space.

Andy Abramson

I think Google and Apple are both looking at the carriers and saying things to themselves (or even each other) like:

1) Why do we want to work with these guys who hold our growth back
2) When did the old control the lives of the new
3) As upstarts we already changed how things are done. Why let those folks hold us back and slow thing down.

I'm not against Google. I simply disapprove poor business preactice to grab [steal] subscribers. Andy - you know better than anyone that the game is around 3 numbers: 1. churn; 2. ARPU; 3. subscriber acquisition costs.

Recession and recent losses has implications for the following factors on all carriers:
1. Higher churn;
2. Lower ARPU;
3. Increasing subscriber acquisition costs.

Google has low Churn, 0 ARPU and 0 acquisition cost and operates on carries background.
It's unfair competition by all means.
Now saying that AT&T is not a team player- well we all know that. But it doesn't justify Google's attitude.

Google is not the enemy. They have a good opportunity to change the Telecom. Let's not ruin it.

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