Google has finally made the decision to publicly announce their rollout of voice calling and video chat from within Gmail. The feature requires the install of a plugin to make the calls from within Gmail but provides the initial benefit of free calls anywhere within the USA or Canada....
Does you email need to call you?
The problem is that now you cannot escape from distractions within even your email, as Google continues to add bells and whistles to their Gmail platform. The interesting point about it is that a whole lot of people don't seem initially that excited, so has Google pushed a product that people aren't wanting to use purely for self benefit? Like most people im happy enough to use Skype if I want to make a free phone call or I can pick up my mobile if I want to talk. The idea of click to call within Gmail seems to create more of a hassle than an added benefit for Gmail users.
Free calls until when?
Another issue I have is the vague statement that calls to the USA and Canada will be free for at least the rest of the year... and then what will it get revoked before Christmas or will it be the 31st December at 11:59pm? Launching a new VOIP product is great for consumers looking to save money but picking a random and uncertain time in the future where you will start having to pay seems a little disorganised...
Some of the notes on the post talk about its great if you are in an area that has bad reception. I would assume that would be likely because you are in an office and should be working and not making personal calls oh and it doesn't mention the side issue of having to need a PC handy....
I mean great idea to promote the product as Gmail calling but it's really Google Voice just inside Gmail, and the http://www.gmail.com/call redirects to http://www.google.com/chat/voice/ so why try to market it under a new banner it will just confuses consumers as they wonder if it operates differently to Google Voice and why do they need it.
Skype Works Better
I don't see how using Google Voice inside Gmail is any more convenient that running the Skype plugin where you can click to call any number within your browser. No need to write down the number and type it into Gmail, Skype already has a click to call module that works great.
Skype is cheap enough
With all the issue around trying to get people who use the internet to pay for news/video/music why push down the already cheap rates to free, it's not going to help consumers if Google Voice kills off all the other VOIP companies. The call prices between Skype & Google Voice for landlines is fairly slim in Europe with a saving of only $0.01/min which is not enough for me to worry on a Pay as you go plan, or you can just get a monthly plan and pay a flat rate if you call a lot using VOIP.
I mean give the product a test and download the voice plugin here but really it's not going to change the world anytime soon and Skype is still the world's leading VOIP product for a good reason, its simple and it works!