How To Fail, By Google Voice

This week’s episode of ‘How To Fail’ is brought to you by Google’s new Google Voice service, formerly (currently, for me) known as GrandCentral. Google purchased Grand Central in July 2007, nearly 2 years ago, and promptly did nothing with it (unsurprisingly). The service has been active for existing users, but new registrations were closed off, and beta invites were removed, as well. There have been no new features, and I’ve even seen a few things disappear, such as the easy way to begin a phone call from the web interface.

Last week, on March 11 2009, Google announced that GrandCentral had become Google Voice! Finally, some action, with new features, including the much-needed SMS support, and a new voicemail transcription service! There was much fanfare, with several video walkthroughs posted and everything. Sounds great, right? Yeah, unless you’re one of the unlucky users still stuck with GrandCentral.

That’s right, despite having 2 years to get things ready, there are still, 6 days later, users left without the update, staring blankly at the same GrandCentral interface we stopped using a long time ago (though I use the service almost daily, I don’t login to the web dashboard ever). We do get a nice plain banner, though:

GrandCentral LAME Message

That’s it. If you click the ‘Read the blog’ link, you’re simply taken to the Google Voice announcement post, as if to tease you a bit more. Jerks.

For those folks reading this blog, here’s what NOT to do when you launch a service, or upgrade an existing service:

1. Announce it with big fanfare, but with randomly limited access.

2. Not offer any information about why a particular user might have been left out. Even something stupid like, ‘We’re starting with user #1, and you’re user #2562348, so you might have to wait a bit’ would be better than just ‘sorry, not yet, keep checking like a dork, thanks.’

This is just a big fat FAIL, there’s really no other way around it.

Update: Not long after posting this, I received a comment from Vincent at Google Voice, letting me know my account had been updated. While that doesn’t change the prior situation, it does make me happy to know that Google is actively keeping up with conversations being had around the web about their products. Excellent way to handle an already bad situation, Vincent.

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