Over-the-top (OTT) voice over IP may be finally coming into its own, driven primarily by a desire to make cheap international calls. In its last earnings call, eBay reported good numbers for Skype, which has so far failed to create any of the often-touted symbiosis with the eBay core business.
Google has now entered the space in the UK and has included a text-to-speech feature for email. The success of Skype and the entry of Google are both centered on international calls, where the pricing difference versus standard voice is compelling. Google is taking a different tack than Skype. In the first release there’s no video or IM, and the service isn’t tied to a computer. You call a “service number” from which you can pick up voicemail and also hit a key to get dialtone for a new call.
We’re hearing that Google is marrying this service with Android, and that Google is even considering having “smart” dialing based on whether a given party is in the VoIP or traditional calling zone. This is all part of a drive by Google to get stronger in the mobile space, and it will help the company accumulate presence data.
All of this will put tremendous pressure on carrier voice offerings when Google expands the base worldwide, something likely to happen within a couple of months.