published Friday, November 19th, 2010

Tech Talk: Google Voice hitches a ride on Apple's iPhone


by Donnie Jenkins

Techcrunch.com reported this week that Google Voice has finally been approved for the Apple iPhone.

Apple had maintained forever that they "hadn't rejected the app," just that they were still considering it for approval. Google allegedly benefited from some interest from the government concerning Apple's approval policies. Whatever the case, there is now one more alternative offering on the iPhone. Anything different is good.

Sometimes I feel like Dabney Coleman's character in the movie "9 To 5." Those familiar with the movie will recall that three female office workers kidnapped their boss, played by Coleman, and held him captive at a home until they could get some documents to prove his guilt in a theft from the company.

They kept him captive in a harness attached to an alarm. When he would try to get away, the alarm would go off and he would be restrained and pulled up toward the ceiling.

Possibly his worst punishment was that all he had for recreation during this time were soap operas on television, particularly the then-popular "Days Of Our Lives."

I see myself in this position every time Facebook or Google announces a new service that will purportedly kill the other. This week, it was Facebook's turn as it announced a new messaging system for the service.

Rumors had said they were releasing a Google "g-mail killer." But rumors of the death of g-mail have been highly exaggerated. What they released is an interesting hybrid, an attempt at unified messaging in a sense.

Basically the new service will try to combine e-mail, instant messaging, SMS text messaging and possibly more into a streamlined offering. It will be offering e-mail addresses with the suffix @facebook.com, but the company insists it is not trying to compete with Google, Yahoo or any other provider. That comment caused more than one raised eyebrow, so to speak, as most think Facebook is certainly out to dominate all channels of communication online.

Reviewers' opinions are all over the place on this one. Some say it's the next version of communication online, while others are unimpressed, even contemptuous. Regardless of how this works out, it would be wise never to underestimate Facebook. There has never been a company like this before. It takes huge chances, moves quickly and seems to have a focused vision unlike anyone else. Its competition with Google sometimes seems like a soap opera, but the stakes are huge.

* I often get asked by business owners about marketing software and especially e-mail providers. One of the best combinations available today is the free WordPress blogging software and Aweber paid e-mail service. I'm speaking here of the version of WordPress that is hosted by a website owner, not a blog on wordpress.com, which is also free.

WordPress is probably the most popular and well-supported platform for blogging and generic website construction. Many web hosts such as Bluehost, HostGator and others provide free WordPress installations with your service. Once it's set up, you can choose from thousands of add-ons and plug ins for the service.

Aweber is the industry standard for bulk e-mail providers. While it is certainly not the only one, it offers an excellent mix of features, and it is a dream to set up and use. Other great choices here are Constant Contact and MailChimp. A well tended blog and a current mailing list are essential to any marketer, and these will do nicely.

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