24 January 2005 Speculation has mounted that Internet search behemoth Google plans to expand its burgeoning portfolio to include telephony services, a move that would set it up against fixed line incumbents such as BT.
According to The Times newspaper, Google is intent on launching a directory service that would combine with voice over IP (VoIP). Users could then search Google’s directory for a desired company, and then speak to that business for free using the Internet.
This would be an “obvious” development for Google said Julian Hewett, analyst at market researchers Ovum in a statement.
“Millions have downloaded the “Google toolbar”, so why not a VoIP client too? Voice calls with very little cost and funded by advertising. What a sweet extension to Google’s advertising-driven business model,” he added.
Rumours regarding Google’s possible move into the telecommunications business began to circulate after the web giant advertised a job for “strategic negotiator” with experience in dark fibre contracts. Dark fibre is the vast network of unused cabling laid down during the dot com boom. This could serve as the infrastructure for an IP telephone network, and would be available at a bargain price.
Google has so far refused to be drawn on its intentions, with a spokeswoman dismissing the reports as “pure speculation”.
Meanwhile, Google is preparing to give advertisers more control over the content, timing and targeting of their ads through a specially devised application programming interface (API). This technology enables companies to manage their online advertising campaigns by choosing which search terms trigger their adverts and for how long those ads run.