Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Google Announces Free Calling in GMail Through 2013

Today, Google has once again announced free voice calling from GMail to domestic land-lines and mobile phones throughout the USA and Canada.  Free domestic phone calling has been extended throughout 2013.

I've been anxiously awaiting this announcement from Google Voice for some time now.  This year's announcement comes a little later in December than past announcements did for 2011 and 2012.

I have been long expecting Google to eliminate the free calling to phones and start charging for domestic calls, much the same way that Skype did.  Skype only provided free domestic phone calling for the first year or so of service before opting to charge for all calls to phones.

Google is setting a new precedent for free USA/Canada calling over such a long period.  Most providers only allow free calling for a short limited introductory period, and then once they have established a sufficient subscriber base, wham, time to start charging money.

I suspect Google's continued generosity is in part due to the slow adoption of Google Voice and GMail's Voice and Video Chat features, as compared to Skype's substantial subscriber base.  Nothing like competition to keep prices down (or free).

Personally, I'm a bigger fan of GMail's Voice and Video Chat feature than I am of Skype.  Especially since Skype started charging for all domestic calls.  Skype even charges for  iNum +883 calls, which should by all logical reasoning be free.  GMail allows free calls to iNum's.

Besides the freeness of GMail Voice and Video Chat, I like the way it is integrated into Gmail.  I have Gmail running all the time (Google App's version) and thus I don't need to run a secondary softphone program in order to place phone calls from my PC.  Skype is a stand-alone program that must always be running on its own.  Skype's program memory usage is huge compared to what Gmail voice uses.

I think few people are aware of the great call quality of GMail voice calls.  I've written a  blog article on this in the past.  Just yesterday, my brother in New Mexico called me here in British Columbia, Canada via GMail voice and the call quality was "exceptionally good" ... throughout the whole one-hour conversation.  My brother was previously an avid Skype user, but now concedes that the call quality of Gmail voice is even better.

Thanks Google for another year of free USA/Canada calling.... and very low rates to the rest of the world!