The "Phoneline" section of a recent power point* from AOL may make some Net-phone-loving Googlers a little jealous.
Starting May 16, AOL's instant messenger users will get a free telephone phone number and voice mail, so they can get free incoming calls from traditional phones. AOL's also about to launch an unlimited monthly PC-to-anywhere dialing service for $15, packed with lots of Net phone bells and whistles.
Now consider how the phone capabilities of Google's instant messenger, Google Talk, are limited to only PC-to-PC calls.
This all leads to a prediction about Google's Press Day on May 10, when the firm's bound to make a few announcements.
There are rumors swirling about Google Music, the download service/iTunes killer Google continues to laugh off, and more of what are called search verticals, or ways of finding material related to topics, such as health.
Here's another one: How about the Google Phone, or somesuch, to let Google Talk instant messagers make and get cell and land-line telephone calls from their computers?
There are certainly competitive reasons to do so, as AOL's Phoneline shows. Plus, Yahoo and Microsoft, Google's chief rivals, are focused more than ever before on selling Internet phone services.
Meanwhile, some quick-thinking companies like Talqer have already beaten Google to the Net phone punch by offering an adjunct for Google Talk to make phone calls to traditional phones.
So adding this all up, it seems reasonable to assume Google's going to pull the trigger on some new Net phone features, although whether it's at the upcoming Google Press Day remains to be seen.
(The story's first paragraph once contained a link to AOL briefing materials about its new features. That link is no longer active.)