Google is set to compete with Skype in the VOIP, (Voice Over Internet Protocal), market with their slow roll out of free calling in Gmail to the U.S. and Canada until the end of the year.
Skype is a VOIP client, (Voice Over Internet Protocol), which allows you to make voice calls using Skype’s software from computer to computer for free. In addition to the free instant messaging and audio/video chat, Skype also has two paid services: SkypeIn and SkypeOut, These services enable you to create a phone number that people can call and that you can dial out from so long as Skype is running.
I’ve paid $60 a year for the two services, with unlimited minutes, and it’s been a great plan B calling option when I’ve been in an areas with bad service and have a WiFi connection. With smart-phones, laptops and now free calling integrated into your standard Gmail web page, you can make calls from your browser’s email with a few clicks. Skype is mobile too, with Apps on the Blackberry, iPhone, and Android so you’re not tethered to your computer.
I’ve been a beta tester for Google Voice for over a year and am happy to see that it’s open to the public. I think in some ways it’s a little ahead of it’s time and that people should be able to have a lite version of Google Voice inside their Gmail web client. With this addition Gmail users can make unlimited calls (for the time being) to most of North America. Google talk/video calling is going to share the Google Voice call rates for international calls. Gmail already had rolled out some video and voice chat options that emulate Skype functionality some time ago. With this free calling incentive Skype may be feeling some pressure.