Google, says Thirdage.com, is going after a new market. In an attempt to emulate the success of Skype, Google is offering its Gmail users free Internet phone service and direct dial from their computers. The new system, which is automatically made available to Gmail customers, started on August 25, 2010. According to Google’s blog, the price for calls to the U.S. and Canada will remain free for the rest of the year.
“Really cheap” rates for international calls are also offered through the computer dial-up system. The current quoted rate is 2 cents a minute for calls to Britain, France, Germany, Japan and China (the price increase when calling a mobile phone). Calling a landline in Mexico is 10 cents a minute.
Craig Walker, Google’s product manager for real-time communications, is enthused about the opportunity for Gmail users to make calls from their Gmail page. In the past, Gmail only allowed a voice system for customers if both were at their computers, signed in at the same time.
Gmail voice and video chat will be a nice way to keep in touch with people while at your computer, using the microphone and speakers. Now, the user can just call friends using their phone number. Even if they are not by their computer or logged in to Gmail, the user gets connection if they answer.
One of the most spectacular bonuses for Google’s new online phone service is the lack of need to download any additional applications, with the exception of installing the voice and video plug-in, if it hasn’t been done already. The program is being rolled out to U.S. Gmail users over the next few days. When “Call Phones” show up in the chat list, the customer will be ready to start calling (Oh, wow, it is already on my chat list!). Reception is expected to be clear; the benefit is more efficient communication.
Gmail has provided a link for more information: www.google.com/chat/voice/
Third Age Staff August 26, 2010, Internet Phone Service Offered by Google
Robin Schriebman, Software Engineer, Call Phones from Gmail