The Google Leviathan has been on the move lately, engulfing several smaller fish on the internet. The latest “victim” being Gizmo5 a VoIP service a la Skype.
Google Voice, your next phone company
Gizmo5 coupled with Google Voice has the prospect of being a very seductive concoction. Users will sign up to Google Voice and get a phone number that will forward all their calls to all their other numbers. It will also provide them with free conference calling and free voice mail to email services among many others. The service will also offer them ultra-cheap outgoing calls. If Google adds support for SMS and MMS, it will allow the customer to completely circumvent the mobile operators per minute tariff and, in general, it might do to mobile operators what the mobile did to the land line.
Now Google seems to have delinquently tried to steer the regulators away from branding Google Voice as a replacement for landlines, since you will still need a phone number to direct all those calls to. So does that mean Google will be the next AT&T?
Certainly, and with their vast ocean of fiber optic networks, their flagship mobile Android 2 set to be released soon and the acquisition of Gizmo5 they are poised to shake things up in the market. Also, earlier in the month, Google acquired a small company called adMob for $750m which specializes in iPhone mobile advertising. The trajectory of Google’s moves seem to suggest that there is a serious bid by Google to get a chunk of mobile phone and smart phone market.
Being beyond the reach of the regulators and the FCC will certainly provide them with an advantage over other networks. Now the prospect of having a VoIP service that takes things to the next level is certainly exciting; but why do I feel a bit scared?
Google has been undertaking projects that affect core areas of our lives, hell the companies first service is its own verb! With projects like the e-library they would have a monopoly on books, they already have a monopoly (almost) in the field of search engines and internet advertising. If Google Voice takes control of the mobile phone market, it might just be too much power and influence in the hands of a single company.
Successes and brilliant entrepreneurships aside, Google is not exactly as innocent as we like to believe, there have been some privacy issues raised in the past concerning Google’s search engine. More recently Switzerland sued Google over street view. The danger of Google lies in so much information aggregated into a single source. Google currently knows what you are looking for, GMail hosts your email, Google Maps & Earth know the places you frequent, and Voice will practically have access to your phone records and conversations. That’s practically a monopoly on a person’s life, and no amount of security would be able to protect such data from being compromised.
Is Google Getting Too Big?
Personally, the notion of someone breaking in and knowing everything that Google will know about is already too scary. It’s scary to the point that my Google Voice invitation still lingers in my mailbox. It is too tempting to follow all the free and innovative services that Google keeps offering, but monopoly laws are in place to protect consumers from exactly the same thing that Google is becoming.
Google is becoming such a behemoth that if it puts any industry in mind, it will dominate it. With what seems like unlimited resources and infrastructure, competitors end up being bought or pushed off. What chance does a local library have against Google Books, or even better, does T-Mobile even stand a chance if Google enters the market?
What are you thoughts on the issue? Does it concern you how much of a force Google is becoming in our lives? Let us hear your thoughts.