Posted by: Olga Kharif on August 30, 2005
Search giant Google has been quietly buying up fiberoptic networks and it might, rumor has it, soon launch its own broadband network. It also is said to be in discussions with various broadband service providers. The idea, of course, is for Google to offer cool new applications, such as phone calling over the Web and even TV services.
What I am wondering about is, what kind of an impact a move by Google could have on Skype and Vonage, the popular providers of over-the-Web calling (VoIP). My advice: These companies better hassle with their respective sale and IPO.
So the question is, should investors grab Vonage's shares, and should Yahoo buy Skype only to see Google emerge as a formidable VoIP competitor?
I think the Yahoo deal makes perfect sense. As Google's direct competitor, Yahoo needs to match all of Google's offerings. Yahoo also needs to get moving since America Online already offers a VoIP service. And Skype, which is winning accolades for its service, just might be the perfect fit.
On the other hand, I am not so sure that Vonage, as a stand-alone company, can compete with someone like Google, whose market capitalization exceeds that of General Motors.
What's clear is that both Skype and Vonage need to hurry up. If the rumors are correct, and if Google does introduce a VoIP service soon, investors and potential buyers might not be as keen on these companies -- or offer as high a price.