Thursday, August 26, 2010

Google starts web phone service

Google has begun to roll out a Skype-like phone service which allows users to call from within their GMail service. Calling US and Canada based numbers are free while credit needs to be purchased in order to call other numbers around the globe. Rates range from $0.02 per minute to $0.48 for some international mobile numbers [comparison chart].

However, even though Google's new VoIP [Voice over Internet Protocol] service is in its infancy, some have already suggested room for improvement. One failure is the lack of integration of details held in a users' contact list. Numbers have to be entered manually rather than selecting from contact numbers directly [PCMag].

The other main failure is that many users outside the US are unable to buy credit, this despite the service being available to some, but not all, international users of GMail. Yet there is a small but limited chance to use the new VoIP service. Google has provided each user with ten cents of free call credit to try out an international call. After this users must purchase additional $10 blocks of call credits via Google Checkout. If a user doesn't use the account for a year or more, then Google reserves the right to terminate the account, including any credit.

Given the quality and service is stable, Google could make a clean sweep over the competition. Skype is currently the clear leader in VoIP calling. But Google has said its international rates undercut those of a "leading internet telephone provider." Google charges 15 cents per minute for calls to mobile phones in France. By comparison, Skype's pay-as-you-go plan costs 20.3 cents per minute.

Skype, however, offers numerous cost-cutting service bundles, including a $10.29 per month plan for 60 minutes of calls to landline and mobile phones in France. This drops the price to 17.2 cents per minute. It is still higher than Google's offering, but the difference may not be great enough to persuade Skype users to switch to Gmail voice. Nonetheless Skype, and other VoIP services such as Vonage, now have some stiff competition [FT / Google blog / The Next Web / CNN].

tvnewswatch, London, UK


James said...

This new service doesn't work. I tried to get it to work over and over again and it wouldn't work.

Newsjunky said...

Not sure where you are based. Google say they have only rolled the service out in the US, though it has appeared on accounts outside the US as well. Though unable to add more credit, due to being outside the US, was able to place a call to China, using a few of the $0.10 that Google gave its users. So it works ok from London, though soon will only be able to make calls to US and Canada!!

James said...

I couldn't even get this piece of crap installed.

lisa jane said...

yeah, i couldnt get it installed at first as well then i managed somehow. It worked once and that was it so i just dont bother anymore. it was supposed to be great for calling to China since i have skype problems as well. I gave it up , what i do now is just use these 2 numbers to call from the London to China: 084 3253 5353 ( landline) or 084 3253 5353 (mobile) and then the destination number. it works fine and its pretty cheap.

Newsjunky said...

tvnewswatch does not endorse Briing nor other services that claim to provide cheap or free calls. Such services are used at your own risk.