GrandCentral and User-Control

From Andy Zimmerman at Accenture and his Trivergence Blog

Grandcentral_logo "Last week New York Times columnist David Pogue wrote about a new phone service called Grandcentral. From the perspective of Trivergence, this service is a pure “controls” play in that it works with any device that makes phone calls.

If you think about it for a second, you’ll realize that your current phone numbers (home, cell, work, etc.) are all assigned to particular devices, not to you as a person. Grandcentral turns this around and assigns you a phone number that can then be routed to any telephone device that you own or (as in the case of a hotel phone) temporarily own.

In fact, when your phone rings, all your phones ring. You can pick up the call on any of them, and even switch from one device to another midstream in the conversation. You can also do neat things with voice mail (a single box for all your lines) and a facility for targeting certain actions (including a fake disconnect message) to particular people in your contacts list.

Grandcentral’s controls are PC-based and constitute an excellent example of what we are calling a SoftPanel. You can go through your voicemail, review your call logs, and program your contact list all from the comfort of your keyboard an large-screen monitor.

One of the things that makes the Grandcentral service interesting is that it is a third-party offering that exists independent of both handset makers and the carriers. As such, it is one of the first examples of Trivergence that is not an end-to-end solution from a single vendor – such as Apple’s iPod/iTunes or TiVo.

Grandcentral’s focused business model makes it one of the first entrants into a new “Controls Industry” that I predicted would emerge as Trivergence became more commonplace. For a more detailed explanation of why I see this as a trend, take a look at my earlier blog posting titled “The Coming Dis-integration of the Networked Device Industry.”

Grandcentral is certainly on to something, and it will be interesting to see if it and similar companies succeed in making digital devices as accessible as search companies have made digital content."

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