(The following is taken from Rich Tehrani's VoIP blog:)
After many months of testing Google
has finally added click to call functionality to Google Maps
Although this really isn’t a new announcement, the addition to Google (News
) Maps is pretty exciting as it continues VoIP’s growth into new areas and business models. Certainly, click to call has been around longer than Google has, but the search leader, by virtue of its dominance in the search market, is able to do click to call on a scale larger than anyone else.
The way the service works is simple; you type in what you are looking for and the city and state. You could put in “Pizza in Fairfield, Conn.” and you could click on “Frank Pepe Pizza” for example. From there you enter your phone number in a box and you are connected automatically via VoIP
. The quality of the call is outstanding, if my few tests are any indication. But then again, your own bandwidth isn’t being used (unless your phone also uses VoIP), as Google uses their network to connect the call and ring your phone.
The power behind this network is VoIP Inc. (News
), and the company has been working with Google Talk for many months, so this new relationship shouldn’t be so surprising.
Now the question worth asking is how this service will be monetized. For now the company seems to be happy to get customers more comfortable using Google services for virtually everything they do. I suppose the next step could be playing a brief ad to callers before the call is connected.
The company seems to be on its way to acting as a middleman between many callers. The question is how to leverage this into a business model. Perhaps the business model in this case will be what it always seems to be at Google - another way to drive more people to the site to click on ads. In fact with revenue reaching an all time high and the stock price
about to break through $500 per share, increasing ad revenue seems like a great strategy.
So we now see VoIP as a tool used by the mighty search engine giant Google to boost search engine revenue. This is truly a great new service Google offers and what’s not to like? I’ve speculated before about all the wonderful things Google could do as your phone provider. So far they have given people a free and easy way to speak with US based businesses. Perhaps these are baby steps but in this case the baby is worth billions and the steps are being monitored closely by everyone who competes with Google in search and those who compete as phone companies.
Rich Tehrani is President and Group Editor in Chief at TMC. In addition he is the Chairman of the world’s best attended VoIP event, Internet Telephony Conference & Expo.