It was Skype that first made it possible to talk free of cost through its web interface. Acquired by eBay in late 2005, Skype soon became a promising arsenal in eBay’s armor along with PayPal that made buyer-seller exchange ‘smooth as silk’ (to hire the famous Thai Airways slogan).
Both Skype and PayPal have flourished independent of eBay. That means you don’t need to use eBay to take advantage of the 2. But they also added to eBay’s fortunes.
To talk about Skype, just how popular it is can be gauged from the fact that since its 2003 (before eBay bought it) launch the 276 million Skype users all over world have already spoken for more than 100 billion minutes.
To put that in perspective, it took “McDonald’s nearly 40 years to serve 100 billion hamburgers (from 1955 to 1994).”
Okay, so that was about Skype. When all this was happening, Google was not sitting idle. The first change came when Google unleashed Checkout, a potential PayPal rival, in mid-2006. And then it was the turn of GrandCentral.
I’m particularly gung-ho about GrandCentral because it’ll allow my visitors to talk to me from this blog-site. Well, not yet though ‘cause the service is only for US people as of now.
If you’re in US, you can do so many things with GrandCentral as you can see in this Google announcement (excerpt):
GrandCentral offers many features that complement the phone services you 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.