Google Acquires GrandCentral, Kills Key Feature

Google has announced that they have acquired GrandCentral. The popular call forwarding and unified voicemail service has been hailed by many, including, for providing such services for free, with a Web 2.0 interface. GrandCentral is the only call forwarding provider that offers free MP3 voicemail, in-call phone switching, multiple phone redirection, and mobile interface.

The integration provides several options for Google. Having a PBX service will allow them to offer Google Talk as a VoIP service, as well as gain domain over not only a user’s email (via GMail), but their phone number as well.

In response to the merger, GrandCentral has already started to remove features that could draw ire from the multi-billion dollar Google. The first feature to get the axe is the ability to use your own MP3 files as ringback tones. GrandCentral has replaced it with a gallery of selectable ringback tones, which they promise to grow in the future. Allowing users to upload MP3 files as ringback tones likely triggered copyright concerns from Google Legal, though no official reason was given for the feature’s removal.

In related news, Google’s invite-only beta model has also been applied to GrandCentral. New users will have to request an invite from GrandCentral’s web site, or be invited. has a few invites, so we’re giving them away to the first few people that request one in our forums. We’ll try to get more depending on the level of interest.