WebRTC World Feature Article Free eNews Subscription

April 29, 2013

Will Google Voice Die?

There was a time when Google could do no wrong. Those days are gone.

From Gmail interface changes, to overly pushing Hangouts and the closing of its popular RSS reader service, Google Reader, the Mountain View tech giant has increasingly become the object of frustration. The latest service that has users griping: Google Voice, the company’s voice-over-IP (VoIP) play.

It has been so long since Google refreshed the service, some are starting to wonder if Google will even keep Google Voice alive. If Google Reader can die, why not also the beloved but neglected Google Voice?

“Google Voice is being overtaken almost daily by Android and iOS chat applications that offer nearly all the features Google Voice lacks,” a Wired post recently noted. “But whether Google Voice will continue, or remain a standalone app as we know it, is uncertain. Google pulled the plug on its popular Reader RSS reading service last month, so anything is possible.”

The post also noted that despite the 3.5 million daily users who rely on its VoIP service, Google has let Google Voice grow long in the tooth. It still doesn’t offer MMS, its interface and feature set have basically been the same for years, and while the industry innovates and a plethora of similar services have emerged, Google Voice just awkwardly sits there with largely the same feature set it had when Google purchased its parent company, Grand Central, in 2007.

“I wish Google would stop teasing us with Voice and just shut it down (instead of Reader which actually works). Google Voice has been problematic ever since their stupid push to shove Plus and Hangouts down our throats,” noted a Google Groups post last week that epitomizes the frustration. “They just haven’t worked in years, and it requires a LOT of effort to get any kind of functionality. And now that I’ve got a new Windows 8 computer, I can’t get the extension to call me whatsoever. I’m really starting to despise everything Google does. Do us a favor Google, and just END Chat, Talk, and Voice, and then go try to stand on your own with the stupid Plus and Hangouts which are obviously your beloved love child.”

It is expected that Google will be integrating Google Voice into its integrated real-time communications offering, Babel, which might explain why Google Voice has remained static for so long. Babel currently just is a rumor, but signs of the platform have repeatedly appeared in code for other Google services.

This would be consistent with Google’s move to integrate Voice’s entire operations into the company’s real-time communications team in 2011, which includes Google+, Hangouts, Chat, and Talk.

Real-time communications is most decidedly the direction of things, with chat, voice, video and message boards all coming together into a unified communications platform.

Many think WebRTC, an API currently being worked on by the World Wide Web Consortium that would enable browsers to leverage voice, video and P2P sharing without the need for a plug-in, is where unified communications is headed.

But even if Google Voice does end up as just a component of some unified “Google Messenger” product, iteration is the methodology of the day and Google isn’t iterating Voice any longer.

Will Voice get some love from Google soon, or is the company just letting rivals steal market share? With the death of popular and useful services such as Reader, avid Goodle Voice fans are starting to worry about its fate as well.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox. [Free eNews Subscription]


Free WebRTC eNewsletter

Sign up now to recieve your free WebRTC eNewsletter for all up to date news and conference details. Its free! what are you waiting for.