[Score!] Google Quadruples account storage

Announced yesterday (Nov 11, 2009), Google increased the total storage of all paid accounts by a factor of 4.

This stands out as a distinction from companies like MSN, for whom if storage had become cheaper would not have quickly offered the a significant deal to it’s current customers, nor would likely have quadrupled the storage. In my estimate another company would offer twice the storage, and only to new customers, or at least ask current customers to sign-on and request the upgrade.

Internet Choke-hold

It would appear that access to the web is being restricted across the board. Congress may sign into law a bill to force ISPs to regulate traffic. ISPs like Comcast, are already limiting the amount of traffic that permitted for Torrents. All US wireless companies are restricting bandwidth per month to 5GB.

But that’s not all. I am currently paying for access to the internet of 6Mbps/ 768kbps at home for $45 + Taxes (= $48/ month). Currently paying $59.99 + other fees + taxes (= $80/ month for Mobile phone access with Internet and Text Messaging. And would like to have Wireless access on my notebook (because my Wireless Service Provider doesn’t permit tethering), but that would be an additional $49.99 +Tax (= $55/ month). Or $29.99 + Taxes (= $35/ month for my SUV).

These plans for internet access to devices seems to be all in the court of the providers. Where is the universal plan, where every device I use is bound to the same account? Can I get my Mobile Phone, Home, Car and Notebook(s) in One Plan?

We are heading toward the day when all data services are run through One Pipe. All television, voice communication, movies, generic internet access, are all available to every device we have, via one service or connection. When will that day arrive?

I believe that the Family Plan concept works well, but as we rarely use the internet at home while we are using it on our phones or out-and-about via our netbooks. No one uses a netbook, a mobile phone, and localized home service simultaneously.

There will come a time when this mish-mash of services provided per piece of connected gear, is only One Service. For now I suffer with separate and unequal services.

Google Voice

Recently released by Google, Google Voice is still in a version of it’s Beta release. Although available via Android (the Google G1/ G1) and Blackberry phones, Google Voice is quite functional and free. Like all Google Applications, a Gmail account is recommended, though not required.

To gain an invite to this Beta release, check out http://www.google.com/voice/m via your phone’s web-browser. Login to your Gmail or Google account and then wait about 15-30 minutes for the invite.

This latest application requests that you pick a local universal number that everyone will be able to contact you at. The list is immense, so you’re likely to get something in your Area Code. Google has included it’s search functionality in looking up a number for you, so go ahead and take full advantage; you can even look for letter combinations (e.g. 555-JoeCool).

Once you have a number, you can link up to 6 of your current phones to the service. Depending on your configuration, when someone calls your Google Voice phone number, all your phones will ring. If the call is missed, you won’t have to worry about checking 2-6 different phone messages. SMS text messages can also be sent and received via this phone number.

If you’ve used any of Google’s applications on the Web, then you’ll find that interface that Google provides is quite familiar. SMS and Voice mail are listed like Gmail’s conversations and grouped by user. Once I discovered that I could send and receive SMS text messages from my fiancee via both my Phone and web-interface, I jumped moved to it immediately.

Google Voice provides many features that are currently unavailable in regular mobile and home phone services (outside of VoIP). One of the these features is the ability to block specific phone numbers from reaching you. If, for example, an unsolicited vendor calls your Google Voice number, you can immediately block this number by marking it as SPAM.
Another useful feature is the ability of this service to Transcribe voicemail to text. If you are unable to reach any of the phones that this service rings, once the caller leaves a voice mail message, it is transcribed to text in a matter of seconds. Notification of the message is then sent either to your email account or via SMS to your phone. The message is then playable or readable.
Finally, for those who are current Gmail users, using Google Voice will automatically import your current Gmail Contacts. Each contact group can be met with a different Voice Mail greeting.

I look forward to the day when applications of this type are common place. That the end-user has control and understanding of his/ her rights and abilities in communication. YAY for Google in spreading the good word, in freely useable applications for all

The Next Killer-App

It’s not possible to collect all the killer-apps and incorporate them into one device. Nine years ago, a school buddy told me why he never purchased a Mobile Phone (even before the Treo became a phone). He wanted the phone that did it all; phone, internet, camera, massive storage, music, movies, external ports, blue tooth, Wi-Fi, common headset adapter (rather than a mini-port).

This week in the GDGT podcast, Ryan Block and Peter Rojas talked about the Sony-Ericsson IDOU phone, with it’s 12.1MP screen (640 x 320). It was noted that Sony-Ericsson has often attempted to concentrate on one great application in their phones rather than make everything decent. Sure there will be people who purchase this new Phone, but how many of them can afford the latest/greatest?

I bet it’s tough to guess where the public is going with it’s fickle decision-making. It might be easier (from their perspective) to give a blindfolded 5-year-old a handful of darts and have him throw them at a Mobile Phone to pick the current Killer-app. But paying attention to the leaders in gadget review and speculative ideology, such as Gizmodo and Engadget, could actually help steer corporations in the direction of their customers.

Per that suggestion of having everything in one Mobile Phone, it likely will not come in the first, second, or even fifth revision, but I’d like to see someone try. HTC is doing a good job at “trying”. Google helped by giving them an Operating System that’s Open Source and simple to write for. What did we get as a result, the first Android-based Google Phone; the G1, and it’s still only the first revision.

The evolution of gadgets is again renewing itself. But in the near future I would like to see…

  1. The Google Phone with an on-board micro drive or 20GB+ Solid State Drive.
  2. Bluetooth go the way of the dinosaur (to be replaced with Wireless USB)
  3. Apple iPod Shuffle with 8GB or 16GB
  4. A Watch Phone with WUSB and 4GB of on-board memory