But maybe Voice is just something of a question mark, albeit of a most harmless kind. Voice was the product of an acquisition of a phone-managing service, GrandCentral, that had its heyday in a time when having an office phone, a home phone, and a cellphone was more likely than today’s norm of having just a cellphone. Another of Voice’s killer features, international web-based calling that’s usually cheaper than Skype, hasn’t really taken off, at least to the extent that I’ve met anybody who uses it, or read about its popularity in any publication.
All this is not to say I don’t like or appreciate Voice--I use it every single day, and the ability to send and receive text messages from my desktop browser is worth a whole lot to me. But because my phone number is a Voice number, and because a whole lot of phone history is now stored with Voice, I want to see it succeed and even expand. So here’s hoping the purpose for Voice becomes more clear than “that nice thing Google offers.”
Update: A Google spokesperson provided these comments, in response to questions about these same topics: plans for the future and monetization:
Google Voice is a free service that helps you manage your phones and voicemail by unifying all of your phones with a single number. We only generate revenue on international calling. We also charge a one-time fee of $10 to port your number. We have no plans to change this strategy going forward in terms of monetization.
The ability to make and receive calls in Gmail is powered by Google Voice but I don't know that I would go so far to say that it is the "glue" that links our services together. Google Voice gives you more control over all of your voice-based communications and makes it easy for you to access this information from anywhere—by phone, email, or the Web.