Google Voice for Enterprise customers could usher in a whole new era of telephony services for business.
Update: Google Voice for Domains has been available since September and before on gmail.com. I was only recently able to pick it up on my account when my account was migrated to new infrastructure.
Google Voice is a pretty incredible, free service for routing telephone calls to different services and devices.
Recently, Google enabled the ability to make and recieve calls directly from a personal Gmail account over VoIP, effectively becoming a web-based Skype alternative.
Now, Google (GOOG) is slowly activating the service for its business customers. My own Apps domain account went live this morning (right). Businesses who’ve moved over to Google’s new Apps infrastructure should have the option of enabling Voice on their accounts..
Voice is a significant new feature for businesses that use Google’s Apps for Domains, perhaps almost as important as email. Business users can activate Voice from their Hosted Email service, free of charge (even users of Google’s Free domains service can enable Voice).
In fact, a frugal business can now forgo the purchase of a phone entirely, instead relying on Google Voice through Gmail during business hours and forwarding to an employee’s personal numbers after hours (wireless minutes notwithstanding).
Google is putting together a pretty compelling web-based suite of backoffice applications and, with the addition of Google Voice, it is eliminating another external/extraneous service addition. Office IT administrators soon won’t have to deal with telcos beyond getting a data line into the office. Besides saving lots of IT man-hours, Voice could save significant telco costs that often add up.
I’m also hearing murmurs that Google will soon support number-porting so that users can pull business lines/personal lines into Google Voice as well, if you desire. For those who want to keep their line with their telco, Google offers a voicemeail and routing service which effectively has much of the same functionality as Google Voice.
The next step for Google Voice is mobile VoIP, which will effectively shake up the wireless telco business. Android chief Andy Rubin said Google was hesitant to mess with the business of their carrier partners by introducing Voice VoIP on Android. I think it is only a matter of time before the technology is good enough (and Google’s market share is big enough) to make this next step a reality.