Google is now starting to admit new users to Google Voice, and the new offering is certainly a step that will give telcos worldwide some major angst. Google Voice is a free service that provides a single number, voicemail, free calling in the U.S., call screening and blocking, SMS alerts, email delivery of voicemail, rings on multiple phones, changes phones in mid-call, etc.
The new offering is surely a version of a unified communications product hosted on the Internet and it competes with nearly all of the telco advanced voice features. It also seems to signal Google’s entry into more traditional services. What the business model for this will be is very hard to say, but the offering certainly puts pressure on telcos to come up with a better (which is to say ANY) service-layer strategy.