Star Performer: Google
Google, already the clear-cut leader in Internet search, has a history of making disruptive changes to the marketplace. Like its launch of the Google mobile operating system, the Android phone operating system, and the Goog411 directory service, the company’s launch in March 2009 of Google Voice was another sign that Google is serious about making a name for itself in the telecommunications space. The move also suggests that Google is looking to include new modalities, like voice, in its ubiquitous search capabilities.
The company has been relentless in its assault on the speech market during the past year. In addition to Google Voice, which includes a number of phone applications—such as voicemail transcription with automatic speech recognition, text messaging, call recording, conference calling, call routing, personalized greetings, and the ability for users to create a single phone number to unify all their business and personal communications—the company has added to or expanded the capabilities of many of its existing speech products.
First, the company added other languages, such as Mandarin Chinese, and platforms to its voice search application. Next it expanded its Search by Voice capabilities as part of its Google Maps 4.1 to Windows Mobile and Symbian S60 phones. Then it expanded its video transcription service to the entire community of YouTube video posters.
But perhaps its biggest shake-up came earlier this year when Google released its Nexus One smartphone—which it calls a “superphone”—developed with HTC. The phone features voice-enabled functions native to the device, letting the user speak anything that can be typed. Other speech capabilities include voice command and control, voice search, voicemail transcription, and text-to-speech output for location and mobile search applications.
The company’s year of giant steps in the speech arena also included its May acquisition of Global IP Solutions, a Voice over Internet Protocol provider, creating a real presence for the company in that ultra-competitive space. Google then announced an Internet TV platform built on its Android mobile phone operating system. That effort includes partners like Sony, Intel, and Logitech.
And, as of press time, rumors began to surface around the blogosphere that Google was working to integrate Google Voice with its Gmail application.