This is a good one, as it can be a potential game-changer in a business that needs some serious game changing.
Google announced the news, hot on the heels of a Sprint Nexus S 4G rumor, in a blog posting that starts by putting the move in context: “Over time we’ve worked to bring an integrated Google Voice experience to your mobile device by building mobile apps, introducing Google Voice Lite, and most recently number porting. But we felt that ultimately, the most simple solution would be to partner with carriers to seamlessly integrate Google Voice with your mobile phone.”
Then Google revealed the killer news: “Today we’d like to share that we’ve teamed up with Sprint to do just that.”
How can this be? Existing cell phone operators make money by owning (some may say “nickel and dime-ing”) the entire space that their consumers operate in in terms of mobile communications: They own the cell towers, they organize how your phone calls get connected, they charge you for SMSs (which effectively cost them nothing, and return huge profits), they tell you when peak call rates apply, they decide how much you’ll pay and how much mobile data you can access at what speed. AT&T is even getting clever right now with people who jailbreak their iPhone to sidestep an exorbitant “tethering” fee that’s incurred if you want to use your officially un-jailbroken iPhone with its new Wi-Fi hotspot powers.
Google’s Voice system threatens this entire business ecosystem.
GV is a good step as we move from the POTS (plain old telephone system) into a largely IP based one, and get the cost savings, efficiency, and innovation that come along with it. Being able to make “phone” calls on your [insert mobile device name here] should be trivial as long as you have decent bandwidth.