Google the Great Risk Taker

Safety is an illusion in today’s workplace. The current economy coupled with rapidly advancing technologies allows opportunities, or makes it necessary, for organizations to change the way they work. For individuals in many organizations, it could mean that risks (suggesting change, launching a new product, revamping a process) are not taken in an effort to maintain some kind of status quo (continued employment for example). The obvious downside for not taking a risk is that sometimes maintaining the status quo is equivalent to stagnation and failure.

I have always been a glass half full, change equals opportunity, bring on the next challenge kind of person. I am sure that some of you share the excitement that this personal philosophy provides. Perhaps, like me, you look at Google and see a similar optimism. If you don’t believe that Google is a great risk taker, I have some examples from recent history.

Google Wave. It was contemplated, tested in the market (see post comments), and canned as a failed experiment. Google risked investing time and resources and after evaluation, risked again by stopping development of a tool that some people found useful.

Google’s new voice and video chat tool that is now available in your gmail. For Canadian’s who do not have access to Google Voice, this was announced yesterday:

Gmail voice and video chat makes it easy to stay in touch with friends and family using your computer’s microphone and speakers. But until now, this required both people to be at their computers, signed into Gmail at the same time. Given that most of us don’t spend all day in front of our computers, we thought, “wouldn’t it be nice if you could call people directly on their phones?”

Starting today, you can call any phone right from Gmail.

I haven’t had an opportunity to adequately test this new service point yet, but as far as business risk taking goes, this is a great example. Between Voice and call from Gmail, it may even seem that Google is competing with itself. David’s post this week about cell phone adoption provides an interesting counterpoint from the communication philosophy standpoint.

If you have tried out this new gmail phone service, let us know in the comments. For US readers, I would love to hear if you are using Google Voice.


  1. According to the support page, the call phone feature in Gmail, much like Google Voice, is still only available in the U.S. Hopefully they’ll arrive in Canada at some point…

  2. Thanks Martin. I must have been confused by the “free calls to US and Canada” note that I saw.

  3. I’m using it in Victoria right now, it’s working great. Not that well integrated yet (for example, can’t just click a phone number in an email), but the sound quality’s very good. And free’s nice.

  4. Thanks Benjamin

  5. It just became available tonight via my Gmail account. Too late to call anyone though to try it out.

  6. The Call Phone feature showed up on my gmail account yesterday. I am in Toronto and it works fine. I tried making a couple of calls and the quality is surprisingly good. I wasn’t even on a headset. I simply used the built in microphone on my laptop! Curiously, if I try to access some of the functions like “add credit”, it takes me to the screen that tells me that Google Voice is not available in my country…

  7. The Law Librarian Blog reports that the service works well too.