News Analysis: Gmail now has a VOIP phone-calling option that could pose a serious challenge to Skype's Internet phone service - at least in the United States and Canada.
unveiled a new VOIP service on Wednesday
that integrates directly into
Gmail. The feature is quite simple and allows users to place free calls to
phones in the United States
and Canada. For
now, few folks have been able to fully test out the service, so there's no
telling if there are any bugs that could cause some users to switch to an
alternative. But at first glance, with some basic use, placing calls in Gmail
provides a robust experience.
Going forward, Gmail's new phone service is undoubtedly taking
aim at Skype, the leader in the VOIP market. And although some might say that
Gmail won't be able to match Skype just yet, some see it a different way. Phone
calling on Gmail might not be perfect right now, but it effectively puts Skype
on notice that Google is ready to steal market share. Take a look at the ways
Gmail's VOIP service poses a huge challenge to Skype's Internet phone service.
1. It's readily available
One of the issues facing Skype now that Gmail has VOIP is that
no longer the only readily available solution on the market
. Every Gmail
user now has the ability to place calls by clicking one option and dialing.
They don't need to open a special program or wait for a service to load after
downloading the plug-in. They need only to click the phone option and call
someone. That convenience could hurt Skype.
2. It's coming to more places
Google Voice is quickly making its way to more and more
platforms. Having it available on the Google Voice page and on Gmail is one
thing, but now that users can place calls on the iPhone, BlackBerry and
Android-based devices, it doesn't bode well for Skype. Admittedly, the VOIP
company does have several mobile options available to customers as well, but
Google has far more clout among users. And the more places its service is
available, the worse it is for Skype.
3. Google Voice offers more options
Voice delivers far more options to users than Skype
. At first glance, it
might just be a service that allows folks to place calls, but it can also
provide voicemail-transcription service, free text messages and the ability to
work on several phones with a single number. Gmail phone integration isn't that
advanced, but if it gets users thinking about Google Voice, the search giant
will already find itself in the lead.
4. Free calling in key areas
One issue with the phone-calling service in Gmail is that it
doesn't provide all the international-calling options that Skype boasts. But
the vast majority of users will likely only want to place calls around the United
States and Canada
anyway. It might not be ideal, but right now, Google is delivering a viable
experience with its U.S.
support for the vast majority of its customers. Those who want to chat overseas
will move to Skype.