I’ve been wondering about the GrandCentral “One number for life” mantra, and TalkPlus‘ second number for your mobile phone. While I understand these products target different markets, I find it hard to keep them distinct in my mind. It dawned on me that this could be a problem that consumers have as well.
There’s a lot of chatter about Voice 2.0 applications–the user in control not the network–but that is the VOIP blogosphere talking. Me, I think okay, I get another number, it’s free for now, and it’s solving what problem exactly?
Provides a phone number not tied to a device or location. When people call this number, the phones you have “attached” to it ring, like your cell phone, home phone, and office phone. Up to six phones can be linked to your GrandCentral number. The service is all about giving you control over how people reach you (inbound calling) as opposed to how you place calls. Callers can leave voice messages that can be checked by phone, email or online. You’re notified of a voice mail via email or text message to a cell phone. And you can flag unwanted callers as spam. It’s also free.
You need it if people have a hard time tracking you down. You find yourself playing telephone tag. You WANT to be found but heck, you’re always bouncing between work, home, and on the road.
Provides a second number for your cell phone so you can separate personal life and work life. The number can be used as a second line for business, dating, classified ads, online auctions, social groups, or a second residence. Like GrandCentral, unwanted callers can be blocked while priority numbers ring through. When making outbound calls, you can specify which caller ID to use so that the person you are calling doesn’t know how or where you’re calling from.
You need it if your mobile phone is your primary means of communication but the separation of work and play is important to you. You want people to know that you’re calling from the office (the caller ID says this is a work-related call) even though you’re calling from home or the beach in Maui. You are also concerned about personal privacy and want to make sure that your personal number is only available to the people you want to have it.
In talking with Craig Walker, GrandCentral CEO, he tells me they couldn’t be more different than TalkPlus.
“Our philosophy is that we donâ€™t need MORE numbers for people to reach us atâ€¦we need less. As long as I have the control over my inbound calling that GrandCentral gives me, thereâ€™s no reason that I would want to juggle different personas. I donâ€™t want phone numbers that identify me as being located at a certain place or doing a certain thing, I want a phone number that is personal to me. If you want to reach me, call my ONE NUMBER. Iâ€™ll be able to answer it wherever I wantâ€¦I will be able to know whoâ€™s calling every time, and Iâ€™ll even be able to listen in on the voicemail as its being left if Iâ€™m still unsure whether I want to take the call. When somebody calls me, they shouldnâ€™t be able to â€œfigure outâ€ or know where I am based on the numberâ€¦if Iâ€™m in the office, working from home or on the beach, thatâ€™s my business.”
Obviously there’s more to both GrandCentral and TalkPlus than what I describe here, and the enthusiasm voiced by many in the VOIP blogging community seems to be not so much what these services are doing today, but what we can expect from them in the future.
To set up a free GrandCentral account, click here. To sign up for a TalkPlus sneak peak beta (for Cingular, T-Mobile, and Sprint customers in select U.S. states only), click here. TalkPlus won’t be a free service like GrandCentral and pricing is to be determined.