Meet Your New Phone Company

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) is looking more like a telecom with each passing day. Android is one of the fastest-growing mobile operating systems. Google Voice is taking a bite out of Skype and AT&T (NYSE: T  ) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) via Gmail calls. And of course there's Google TV and the company's fiber to the home experiment.

To all that you can now add number portability. On Tuesday, the Big G announced in a blog post that it would allow users to port their existing mobile numbers to Google Voice. What's next, satellite dishes and repair trucks?

For its part, Google said the feature is meant to placate users who love the software but don't want another number. I'm sure that's true, but the long-term effect of moves like these is that they wrest account control from network owners.

We've seen similar moves from Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) , which has reportedly toyed with creating its own SIM cards for the iPhone. The Mac maker also added Google Voice to the iPhone to keep Googly users like me from switching to an Android device.

Both companies are fighting to be first in line to serve our personal and business communications needs in the Internet age. They'll do it with hardware, software, and services without worrying about the underlying network.

Think about how remarkable that is. AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) have spent billions on networks that are becoming a commodity.

It's taken years to get to this point. Rather than a singular disruption, the change is the result of a series of encroachments designed to elevate the stature and usefulness of the Internet. Multimedia messaging played a part. So did Skype. And so did Twitter, which is based on simple text messaging. All of it pointed toward a day when digital telephony would overwhelm the analog network that birthed it.

Well, Fool, that day has finally arrived. A digital phone number -- a Googly phone number -- is consolidating its analog peers. Welcome to the future.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. What do you think of Google Voice? Would you use it to consolidate all your other numbers? Use the comments section below to let us know what you think. You can also rate Google in Motley Fool CAPS.

Interested in more info on the stocks mentioned in this story? Add Google, AT&T, Verizon, Apple or Sprint Nextel to your watchlist.

Both our Motley Fool Inside Value and Motley Fool Rule Breakers services have recommended subscribers buy shares of Google. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and Apple, in which it has also written puts. The Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy is so portable you can take it with you. No, really. We insist.


Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (3)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On January 27, 2011, at 7:42 PM, LodestarX2 wrote:

    Some interesting thoughts. However.

    Someday, we may be able to get to Google on the internet without having cable internet (provided by Cox or Time Warner), DSL (provided by ATT or Verizon), or on a mobile network (provided by various cell phone companies not named Google).

    That day is not here yet. Without those actual utility companies, Google or google voice can't really do squat.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2011, at 9:30 AM, curtisandmf wrote:

    I agree. It is like renting all the cars on the road but not owning any of the roads to drive on.

  • Report this Comment On January 28, 2011, at 2:50 PM, Networker50 wrote:

    After looking a Google Voice I don't see where it could be considered a telco replacement, at least not anytime soon. It is a service that can consolidate your various communication methods but that seems to be about it. You need another company to provide the transport for the service so until Google actually builds a network it is nothing more than a voice messaging overlay and redirector with a few more features in my view. You can do web calling over your ISP from your laptop or via WIFI from your cell phone.

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