Invites for Google Voice — the company’s innovative phone service — are hard to come by, even though Google launched it more than a year ago. But according to a recent post on the Google Voice blog, the company has decided to make it easier for college students to get in on the service.

The decision came after Google realized that college students currently on the service really appreciate its voicemail transcription features, as well as the ability to send free text messages. VentureBeat’s Matt Marshall called it “a killer phone application” in his review of the service.

Google’s decision to focus on college students is a smart one for several reasons. It’s a user group that’s generally on the cutting edge of technology trends. College students were among the first to use cellphones primarily, instead of landlines, for example. And more importantly for Google, their habits are good predictors for general users — particularly since they continue their tech habits after graduating.

College is also a great time to get users hooked on Google Voice. Unlike the phone numbers you get from typical phone carriers, your Google Voice number is intended to last you for life. As users move across various cellphone carriers and phones, their Google voice number and contacts (tied with their Gmail contacts) remain the same. With a service like Google Voice, students will always have access to their friends long after they graduate, and losing contacts during a messy cellphone upgrade will become a thing of the past.

Google is quickly cornering an entirely new market with Google Voice, which is the result of its purchase of startup Grand Central in 2007. There are similar services available, like Ribbit and 3Jam, but Google still has the mobile advantage. That Voice is directly integrated into Google’s Android mobile operating system — which is growing in popularity quickly — is the real strength of the service, and will make it difficult for anyone to compete with it directly.

Students can request a Google Voice invite via a special page with their .edu email address.

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