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GrandCentral Web site to jump the tracks

Google on December 31 will shut down site for GrandCentral, which it acquired and reworked into Google Voice. Users should back up old messages now.

Google is derailing the GrandCentral Web site in order to get fully onboard its Google Voice train.

Google sent out an e-mail to GrandCentral users Saturday announcing that it will be closing down the GrandCentral Web site on December 31.

Google Voice, of course, is the new version of the GrandCentral technology Google acquired in July 2007. Under the service, people pick a phone number from Google Voice; when others call it, Google can ring all the actual phones a person uses and handle voice mail.

Google Voice is still in beta, but GrandCentral users have had the option to upgrade since last spring. Old messages, however, are still on the GrandCentral site, so Google strongly suggests "downloading any messages or contacts that you want to keep in the next 43 days," the e-mail read.

Perhaps this signals that Google Voice is nearing a public launch?

Earlier this month, Google announced its intention to acquire Gizmo5, an Internet telephony company it plans to merge into the Google Voice team. Gizmo5 is a Web-based VoIP client that lets you make phone calls over the Internet, similar to programs like Skype.