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Longtime GrandCentral users unable to upgrade to Google Voice

I started using GrandCentral before they were bought by Google and they put it into beta. Actually I ended up with two numbers, one from an invitation sent to me after Google took over.

How I solved my "one-number" problem, a different way a long time ago, is another story. There is some over-complicated reinvention of the wheel with these web dashboard VoIP virtual phone services for solving an old problem. Considering that for most people who call me, these days area code is irrelevant, as are long distance charges. I live in a 10 digit dialing mandated city and also in mind. There are a lot of people who live and work here with out of state or oustate area codes and it's become irrelevant for voice. If I'm somewhere else it becomes more irrelevant. Cell phones with national plans and plenty of minutes but data plans that are a killer. Skype is also a viable option, with webcam and especially for international calls.

My main purpose for using GrandCentral is that it provides a phone number in another city, where I have a lot of contacts, to easily reach me. I like having control over programming the direction of calls, messages, announcements, blocking. Additionally I can also control these features other than on GrandCentral's web page by a widget on a web page or through my phone.

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This morning I logged into GrandCentral and was excited to see the message offering me the chance upgrade to Google Voice as was ballyhooed announced. My plan was to blog today about how the upgrade went and the new features. Now I'll leave that to the bloggers who were able to continue with the upgrade.

My plans changed when my welcome page with the upgrade notification suddenly became "Your account is not yet ready to be upgraded. Please check back shortly." While the Twitterverse is fluttering madly over Google Voice or some decrying the same fate as myself, I'm instead blogging now about why that gave me pause to re-think why am I using GrandCentral at all or upgrading to Google Voice. Just pondering while waiting...

Do I really want to use another Google service? Do I want all my stuff on their cloud? I recognize that data collection in the cloud is largely unavoidable but I'll split mine up amongst clouds. I'm thinking of diversified financial investing as a concept for web services, although the choices are narrowing for diversity.

The new Google Voice Features, even the voicemail transcriptions, are not unique. The question is how great is the assembly and do they actually reliably function? I don't know yet.

Larry Majid of CNET gushes "Google Voice: Flawed but still awesome." TelephonyOnline's Rich Karpinski writes a good "Analysis: Google Voice versus...everybody?"

RingCentral and Ribbit from BT, GotVMail, OneBox and others provide similar services and don't count telcos and cable providers out yet. Then there's the re-invention of the home phone sparked off by the Verizon Wireless Hub, a tempting alternative for growing microbusinesses to downshifting home office professionals and entrepreneurs. Google still doesn't seem sure what to do with YouTube after major missteps and then there's Gmail...

Amazon is in the cloud, Paypal and Skype are still alive and Twitter is underestimated for it's capabilities beyond 140 character messages. Yahoo isn't dead and there's Mozilla...

Google's Eric Schmidt thinks Twitter is a "poor man's email" while in the same interview conceding the economy is "pretty dire." So how many people will be buying into rich man's email (Gmail?) in an extended recession? Google Voice as a rich man's...phone service?

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The revoked upgrade caused me to think about what I had been putting off, how to better simplify and integrate the few phone numbers I'm now down to, with better messaging. The GrandCentral platform number works reasonably well and when they do eventually offer Google Voice to me, I'll upgrade and use one number as long as it's free.

Realistically, if "Google is going to revolutionize the telecom business" it can't remain free to customers forever, much less in our lifetime. Charging is inevitable, after the teaser, because advertising alone cannot support the type of network and traffic it will take to "revolutionize telecom", even with billions in your pocket, eventually you must turn a profit. Customers will have "one number for life" if they pay for it in addition to being tracked by Google.

There's a fundamental shift here: the person using a service like Google Voice is a "user" and not a "customer" in the sense a telco or cable provider views it.

I can accomplish what Google Voice does much simpler, for less cost and trouble in the long run, another way right now. In the near future I see a need for some of the services of web based VoIP service with feature control and will now start looking in advance at the options, to be prepared for when the time is right. Who knows what else may develop by then?

Does anyone want to purchase a GrandCentral 602 Phoenix Arizona number?