26 Aug 2010
Google’s Gmail phone service – reported yesterday as in beta – has gone live, offering Skype-style voice and video calling.
The service is activated out of the Gmail inbox, with free calls to North America to the end of the year, Google said.
Calls to both fixed and mobile numbers in key Asian destinations China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore are 2 cents a minute. Calls to India are charged at 6 cents a minute.
The new service is not Google’s first IP voice service – it already offers Google Voice – but it is the first which enables calls to telephones.
However, it is unlikely to impact fixed or mobile telcos, who already offer cut-price IDD charges.
As analyst Steve Clement of Pacific Crest told Reuters, “The type of person who would use a service like that isn't the type of customer who still has a landline.”
By coincidence or not, the Gmail voice service hits the market just as Skype is preparing for an IPO.