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Google Challenging Skype

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Last week Google made its move against eBay owned Skype, an online person-to-person internet telephony company, with the purchase of startup company, GrandCentral Communications.

On Monday, Google product manager Wesley Chan posted confirmation of the deal in the official Google Blog:

"We’re pleased to announce that we have acquired GrandCentral Communications, a company that provides services for managing your voice communications. GrandCentral is an innovative service that lets users integrate all of their existing phone numbers and voice mailboxes into one account, which can be accessed from the web. We think GrandCentral’s technology fits well into Google’s efforts to provide services that enhance the collaborative exchange of information between our users."

During the transition Google will issue a limited number of invitations for users to register for a GrandCentral Beta account. Currently use is limited to users with a US based telephone number. Previous users will continue to have uninterrupted access to this service.

While terms of the deal have not yet been revealed, according to TechCrunch, they are speculating that Google forked over around $50 million for the acquisition. While on the surface, this may seem like a considerable sum, when compared to recent purchases such as YouTube ($1.65 Billion), and DoubleClick ($3.1 Billion), this is really pocket change for the internet search giant.

Competitor Skpye was purchased by auction giant eBay for $2.6 Billion back in 2005, and has been a fixture on the web since it was founded back in 2002. Compared to the $2.6 Billion paid by eBay, the suspected $50 Million for Google’s GrandCentral purchase sounds like a huge bargain. GrandCentral’s beta version was originally just released in September of 2006.

It will be interesting to see how Google integrates GrandCentral into its existing products as it is certainly the natural progression for GTalk, Google’s instant messenger.C

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