In documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission, Google said it had more than 1.4 million Google Voice users - with some 570,000 using the service seven days a week - and hinted that it has plans to expand the service, or possibly elements of it, beyond the U.S.
Those numbers were never intended for public release, but because of a "formatting error," information that was supposed to stay confidential was accidentally released, though later replaced with a redacted copy of the documents. Before that could happen, Business Week got a chance to review the documents and posted the confidential information online.
As many of us know, once you send something out into cyberspace, it can be pretty to make it completely disappear. As long as someone gets their hands on a before the original can be pulled down, you can pretty much count on it going public. In a statement to Business Week, Google said:
We had intended to keep sensitive information regarding our partners and the number of Google Voice users confidential. Unfortunately, the PDF submitted to the FCC was formatted improperly.
The early version of the documents also offered hints of taking Google Voice global, with the company noting that it has signed contracts with a number of "international service providers for inputs to Google Voice," according to Business Week. None of those contracted services have yet been launched, though. In addition, the report also lists partner companies that make the Google Voice possible.
I know Google had wanted to keep these details from the public but now that they're out there, it helps us better understand why companies like AT&T and Apple might be concerned about the rise of Google Voice. Google has argued that Google Voice is not a telecommunications service but AT&T sees it differently and has asked the FCC to look into it. At the same time, the fate of a Google Voice app for the iPhone remains uncertain - Google says Apple has rejected the app; Apple says it's still considering it.
Google Voice is a service that's still in its infancy - so much so that you can only get it by invitation. Some of the features still need some work (like voicemail transcription) and the potential for additional features is great. But with this sort of jump start, I can only imagine what sort of traction GV might get if it were open to everyone and anyone.