Simply put: They aren’t the same thing!
I am reminded of the old BASF motto “They don’t make the things we use, they make the things we use better.” That fits Google Voice to a “T.”
I have read over the past few months many articles warning that Skype (and even the cell phone) is doomed, and that Google Voice will replace it. Most (like How Google Voice can kill Skype ) simply miss the point. Google Voice is not a phone service. It is not VOIP. Google Voice connects existing phone numbers through a Universal number. But it does not actually make the call for you through the internet.
Skype, as a VOIP (or Voice Over Internet Protocol) actually makes the call through the internet. I use a computer (which may be a desktop, a notebook/netbook, or even a cell phone that has WiFi) to make the call. And yes, Skype lets me receive calls by allowing me to “purchase” a SkypeIn number, and allows me through SkypeOut to call real numbers. But it is still VOIP. I am calling from a computer, using the internet to make the call.
Google Voice doesn’t do that (although Google Talk might someday fill that gap). Google Voice lets me route calls to and from my existing phones using my existing service providers. Therefore, I can send an receive calls using my cell phone and AT&T, my work phone through Verizon, my home phone (again, Verizon) and yes, even my “SkypeIn” phone number. But it, in and of itself, isn’t providing the call.
So I ask you–why can’t these “techy people” seem to figure this out?
NB: Google has added voice and video chat to gMail, which does target Skype. And because I can can send and receive SMS through a web interface, I can step away from certain aspects of my cellphone (at the loss of portability). But at it’s heart Google Voice is still more of a turbo charging kit for your phone use than a replacement.