TechCrunch is reporting a rumor — and it’s often correct in these — that the telephony “management” startup GrandCentral has been acquired by Google for $50 million. This is not Google as phone company per se, it’s Google as a system to manage calls on top of the existing telephony infrastructure.
Google Talk is an IP telephony system that can be used for PPCall (but really hasn’t been yet).
If the rumor is true, it’s very interesting. How? Why?
- It’s another “useful application” to help people manage their calling just as they manage email. It could be integrated into email/Gmail just as GTalk is today. This helps drive Gmail adoption and reinforce user loyalty with Google overall. It’s Google not just as a search engine but as something much more personal that helps me manage my contacts and lifestyle more efficiently
- There are potential enterprise aspects to this, folded into Google’s larger enterprise suite of applications. I can always be found whenever anyone calls me. This would be valuable for realtors, car dealers, etc. It maintains privacy even as it allows people to be found.
- There are obvious mobile dimensions to this. The company currently has a mobile integration.
- And it will probably will find its way into the PPCall infrastructure for Google at some future point.
These are just my “instant analysis” reactions. I’m sure there are more interesting dimensions and nuances both on the user and advertiser sides of this.
And now for what’s increasingly being called “the creep factor.”
If the rumor is true, some subset of the blogging population and the press will immediately react to this in the following way: Google is now going to know everyone I talk to and have access to my address book?
While this is in fact no different than what already exists at Gmail, this privacy/too much power concern is where Google’s greatest vulnerability now resides.
Greg Sterling is the founding principal of Sterling Market Intelligence, a consulting and research firm focused on online consumer and advertiser behavior and the relationship between the Internet and traditional media, with an emphasis on the local marketplace.