Google recently unveiled its VOIP (Voice over IP) service on Gmail which will now enable its users to make phone calls over the Internet. With this move, Google takes Skype head on in the VOIP space. Google already has a video chat facility for its gives users an audio and visual experience online. This new calling Feature, allows users to dial phone numbers directly through the mail interface. Thus Google now pushes the communication interface from Computer-Computer to Computer-Phone space. Users can click “Call phone” at the top of their chat list and enter a number or a contact name.
So, does Google have the muscle to make Gmail a Skype killer?
Skype, a 7-year-old company, is used by individuals and companies to make video and voice calls over the Internet. According to Skype, its users made 6.4 billion minutes of calls in the first half of 2010. While Google may be starting out behind in this competition, it has the benefit of its large Gmail user base.
Skype could get hurt by this. Skype has been offering the ability to call land lines and cell phones for years now. But having it integrated into Google’s Gmail and, assumedly, their other offerings down the road, is quite an extension for Google.
Google, has always been on the lookout for new streams of revenue, and is looking to expand its reach over their customers and to move into complementary markets that will draw more revenue.Adding voice calls to their existing product set enhances the user experience and keeps people using Google apps longer and more frequently. It also keeps people from using another service like Skype, and it certainly may prompt some defections from Skype. Google definitely has the scale and reach to put a big dent in Skype if Google can deliver on the service side.
The voice calling feature is expected to be rolled out to U.S.-based users over the next few days, according to Google. Users will need to install Google’s voice and video plug-in and watch for the “Call Phones” button to appear on their chat list.