Google buys GrandCentral phone service

Google confirmed it has acquired voice service start-up GrandCentral Communications.

Rumors of the deal surfaced several days ago.

As reported, Google’s GTalk hasn’t done that well, in part because of its confusing interface.

GrandCentral lets users integrate all of their existing phone numbers and voice mailboxes into one account, which can be accessed and managed from the web. Google said, vaguely, that the company’s technology will help Google provide services that “enhance the collaborative exchange of information between our users.”

Google stressed the fact that GrandCentral offers a complement to services most people already use:

If you have multiple phone numbers (e.g., home, work, cell), you get one phone number that you can set to ring all, some, or none of your phones, based on who’s calling. This way, your phone number is tied to you, and not your location or job. The service also gives you one central voice mailbox. You can listen to your voicemails online or from any phone, forward them to anybody, add the caller to your address book, block a caller as spam, and a lot more. You can even listen in on voicemail messages from your phone while they are being recorded, or switch a call from your cell phone to your desk phone and back again. All in all, you’ll have a lot more control over your phones.

Google said that a limited number of invitations will be available at GrandCentral (you must have a U.S. phone number), as the service is integrated into Google. Existing GrandCentral customers will continue to have uninterrupted access to the service, it said.

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