The Gmail-Skype Debate
Also, as Berlinsky noted, Google does not guarantee the freebie will be around forever because Google has to pay interconnection fees to U.S. telecom carriers to route the calls. "It may have to start charging unless it finds other ways to monetize VOIP," Berlinsky said. "By way of comparison, Skype reports that termination costs make up the largest portion of its cost of net revenues-65 percent in 2009."Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin noted that much of Skype's initial adoption and usage was driven by cost avoidance, especially for international calls. As such, he doesn't see Gmail luring many users from Skype. "The equivalent opportunity that Gmail offers is much smaller, since switching pays dividends for domestic calling to phones (displacing the cost of SkypeOut), and a very small savings for international," Golvin added. "So I don't expect a big impact on Skype usage from this." Google's Gmail calling capabilities build on existing voice communications products such as Google Chat with video calling and the Google Voice call management service, which boasts more than 1.4 million users. Gmail itself has around 180 million users, making its potential calling network substantially smaller than Skype's user base. Ultimately, Google is a strong player in the VOIP game that includes VoxOx, BT's Ribbit and capabilities within several collaboration platforms. But Google is still just another player.
Berlinsky also noted that Google's international rates are not always lower than Skype's prices. International calling is Skype's bread and butter.