Grokking Google and GrandCentral

GrandCentralGoogle confirmed that it had acquired telephony management platform GrandCentral today. Here’s my previous post from when the rumor surfaced. Expect integration with Google Talk and Gmail later. Perhaps this is also a full-blown challenger to IP telephony platforms such as Skype. There’s also a likely enterprise dimension to this.

I’m sure Google has a short and longer-term vision for the product. And I’m sure there are some hypothetical advertising dimensions to the longer term vision. There’s already click-to-call for local advertisers and, to date, Google has failed to date to truly roll out PPCall. But imagine this potential scenario:

A local realtor or car salesperson uses GrandCentral to ensure that her phone rings — all her phones ring — when a prospect or would-be buyer calls. The only catch: if the service is free how would Google monetize it? Premium services? Maybe.

There’s potential audio advertising: users call in to listen to messages and hear “relevant” ads (analogous to Gmail today). That might be quite annoying and discourage adoption and usage. Then there’s the simple serving of ads around the margins of the pages; but that could well be met with “banner blindness” or its text equivalent.

My guess is that Google saw a telephony platform like this as strategic in the sense that it creates more convenience, value and loyalty among users. It helps reinforce Google’s brand and usage generally.

There’s also the chance that Google will develop a Jaxtr-like application for social networks and third party sites as well. There are many possibilities, which is probably why Google bought GrandCentral, and we’ll have to see how the company develops the product.

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