Forget all this crap about Google Voice being “your next phone company.” It’s Skype that is going to have some issues.
The Goog was brainwashing, showing off its latest Google Voice apps to Om Malik yesterday, with Google Voice service for BlackBerry and Android clients available. Integration with GV and address book, cheap long distance calls, yadda-yadda.
I should have seen the Android client coming; that was a no brain, brothers… but the BlackBerry client should be a wakeup call to a lot of people. Skype’s been working on a BlackBerry phone client for a while, but it ain’t available for download today as a beta. Since Skype wants to collect business dollars and CrackBlackBerry is the de facto favorite of the biz community, there is a serious hole in the portfolio, hmm? Be interesting to hear why all the delays in a Skype for BlackBerry client. Heck, even Agito Networks has a FMC client for BlackBerry!
Now, let’s talk about pre-loading apps on cell phones, shall we? Skype has been fighting with carriers to get its app pre-loaded on phones with mixed success, but the company has been relatively quiet of late in stomping its feet about open networks and net neutrality. If you buy an Android phone, having the mobile GV client included as a part of the load would seem to be a natural fit if the carrier allows — and if it doesn’t, it looks like the first or second app an Android fan boy would download to complement his shiny-new ‘droid phone. True, Skype is preloaded on more cellular platforms around the world these days, but not a Lot More.
Given that Google is more “open” than Skype on software matters and has a MUCH BIGGER market cap than Skype, when Google goes up to lobby about open networks and net neutrality, legislators are likely to pay more attention.
Finally, there’s the whole momentum/integration thing going on, whereas Skype is a one-trick (communications) pony. You have Google, the Search Engine, plus Gmail, plus Google Voice, plus Android, plus all the other beta stuff floating around. Put together gmail, the search engine, and Google Voice, plus the small-but-growing Android installed base and there’s a good chunk of critical mass right there.
Will this displace Skype? Well, not today certainly, but if GV rolls in some quick and dirty Twitter support — and it will, because Google has no problem playing with others when it suits its master plan — one might start to see some cracks in Skype’s walled-garden approach to the world. Software can come off phones and computers (well, just get forgotten) as easily as it can be loaded.