Google, unhappy in its present conquests, is aiming to hit university and college students with their Voice service, enticing them with free domestic and international for free in their London-style phone boxes.
In the coming weeks, selected universities will be given a phone box which is connected to the Google Voice service which will allow students to call friends and family across the United States as well as abroad.
The hope is that it will encourage students to not only Google Voice but the alternative that is non-traditional mobile phones or landlines.
The trouble will be trying to lure students away from Skype. Skype is bigger than Facebook in users and though Gmail is attracting many university administrators to outsource costly in-house email systems, it is not as popular as Microsoft's Live@edu service. Gmail however may offer the incentive that Google Voice will be part of Gmail's inbox.
- Read more: Google's Gmail calling: Another potential enterprise app goodie aimed at Skype
- Read more: Google Voice is added to Gmail; Boosts exposure but still falls short in other areas
- Read more: Google brings Voice into Gmail with free calls to U.S. and Canada
Danny Sullivan has a video which shows the inner workings of the phone booth on offer, which will also be available at some airports in the near future.
For me, the video does not provide me with the personal incentive to use it. While the allure of being able to call your friends or family from your inbox may be appealing to some, at the moment it offers the problem of being fixed to a desk like a landline.
Though you can take your 'phone' with you to other computers, you will find as many students ring home to speak to their parents, it is the student phoning from a mobile device and the parent receiving from a fixed landline.
In my opinion, they have the two mixed up. Unless Google Voice can be truly catered to a students needs, then it will not be as popular as the far-more used Skype. The London phone box may well be a perfect metaphor for the problem Google clearly faces.
I do like the red telephone box though, but maybe that's because I have one at the end of my road.