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Google to Launch VoIP Product?

January 25th, 2005

From the rumor mill of “what will Google’s next product be” comes the suggestion that Google may be working on a Voice over IP (VoIP) product.

A recent job advertisement had industry insiders chomping at the bit. The job is for a strategic negotiator to join Google’s “technical infrastructure negotiation team”. It will include responsibilities for IP transit across continents and the negotiation of deals for dark fiber.

The Times says: “the logical use of such a network would be to help to support a new telephone service.”

The rumor was fueled by a UK analyst with Ovum.

“This would be an obvious development for the world´s leading search engine. Millions have downloaded the Google toolbar, so why not a VoIP client too?” says Julian Hewett, chief analyst with Ovum, in a note distributed to reporters on Monday.

A new VoIP service would allow users to place calls from their PCs to other PCs and even to normal phones. Both Skype Technologies and Vonage have similar products with millions of users.

“The appeal for Google is obvious: search for something, then ´click here´ if you´d like to speak to the company that´s selling what you´re looking for,” Hewett continues. “Google then collects a fee from the ´sponsor´ for each voice connection. Voice calls with very little cost AND funded by advertising. What a sweet extension to Google´s advertising-driven business model!” he writes.

Other industry analysts aren’t so sure. Google may simply want to maintain its own backbone network to insure global communications of its network – which currently contains more than 100,000 servers in roughly 50 data centers.

Danny Sullivan, an editor at Search Engine Watch agrees, “It may just be that they have a lot of bandwidth costs and this could make things cheaper.”

A spokesperson for Google in London dismissed talk of a VoIP service as “rumors and speculation.”

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