Anyone with an .edu e-mail address who signs up for Google Voice is being promised a Google voice invitation within 24 hours.
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It can also be used without a Google phone number as an online voicemail service, with speech-to-text transcription, custom greetings, low-cost international calling, notification options and message sharing capabilities.
Google believes that students can benefit from using Google Voice to manage their phone calls.
"We've heard college students in particular really appreciate getting their voicemail sent to their e-mail, sending free text messages and reading voicemail transcriptions rather than listening to messages (especially handy while in class)," said Google's Jason Toff in a blog post.
In reaching out to students, Google is following a proven long-term strategy for developing a loyal user base. Apple's strength in the education market in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s helped sustain the company until Steve Jobs returned to revive it.
Microsoft more recently has also been reaching out to younger users with the launch of Docs.com, which allows Facebook users to share Office files online. The company wants to make sure that the generation of computer users who have grown up on the Web remain familiar with its products from the desktop era.
Google Voice is available only in the U.S. and the company is offering only one invitation per .edu e-mail address.