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If you're as heavy a user of Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) cloud-computing services as I am, you may have noticed a change in the way Google Voice allows for recorded calls.
Last week, The Big G began testing a red button on the Gmail pop-up screen. Punch it, and Google will begin recording and save the results to your Voice inbox. The catch? As with the earlier version, which required the recipient to press "4," only inbound calls can be recorded. Here's what the new interface looks like:
Please rescue me from Skype, Google
If this doesn't seem like much of a change, you're right. Google hasn't introduced any breakthroughs with the record button. But that doesn't mean a breakthrough isn't coming.
Were Google to introduce outbound-call recording through Google Voice, I'd be done with Skype in a heartbeat. The $100 I pay the VoIP pioneer annually just doesn't add up. Sure, I get a number, voicemail, and the ability to record outbound business, but that's through an add-on from software developer Ecamm.
And even without outbound voice recording, Google Voice does most of the heavy lifting in my little telephony world. One number covers Skype, my iPhone, and the Gmail software or "soft" phone I've come to rely on more and more. (It's by far the most reliable phone I use.)
We also know there are other services outside Skype and Vonage (NYSE: VG ) offering not only outbound recording, but also entire suites of VoIP services that meet the needs of small businesses at a reasonable cost.
Consider 8x8 (Nasdaq: EGHT ) . This VoIP supplier allows users to place and record Wi-Fi calls from an iPhone 4 and then switch to a public network automatically. It's advanced functionality that neither of its larger competitors offers right now.
Could Google do something similar? Sure. Between its investments in Android, 4G networker Clearwire (Nasdaq: CLWR ) , and Voice, The Big G is building a portfolio of "unified communications" -- i.e., phone, fax, email, Internet -- for the digital era that rivals what Alcatel Lucent (NYSE: ALU ) provided for the analog era that preceded it.
Now it's your turn to weigh in. Do you think Google Voice is becoming a Skype killer? Please vote in the poll below and then leave a comment to explain your thinking.