Besides search and social networking, Google keeps getting deeper and deeper into the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) market. While Google hasn't opened the doors for anyone in the world to use Google Voice yet, Google has just made it possible for Google Talk users to call land-line and mobile phones around the world.
In a Google blog, Pierre Lebeau, Product Manager, announced, after making "it possible for those of you in the U.S. to call any mobile phone or landline directly from Gmail [last year] and starting today, we are making this [service] available to many more of you who use Gmail outside the U.S. by offering calling in 38 new languages."
This will enable international users to make phone calls from Gmail, or other Google services such as Google+ that support Google Talk. While you can still call or video-conference with people for free over the Google Talk Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) network, you'll need to pay if you want to use Google Talk to chat with people on their conventional phones in other countries.
According to Lebeau, "You can now buy calling credit in your choice of four currencies (Euros, British pounds, Canadian dollars or U.S. dollars) and there are no connection fees, so you only pay for the time you talk."
He continued, "To help reduce the cost of staying connected, we're also lowering our calling rates to over 150 destinations around the world. For example, it's now only $0.10 (or €0.08) per minute to call mobile phones in the U.K., France or Germany (landlines are $0.02/min), $0.15/minute to call mobile phones in Mexico and $0.02/min to call any phone number in China and India. The complete list is available on our rates page." U.S. and Canadian users will be able to make free calls within their countries for the rest of 2011.
This new VoIP service isn't available everywhere yet. Google hasn't announced which countries will get it first. Instead, Lebeau simply said, "We're rolling out this feature over the next few days, so if it's available in your country you'll see a little green phone icon show up at the top of your chat list and you'll be ready to make calls (you'll need to install the voice and video plug-in if you haven't already). If you're a Google Apps user, your domain administrator must have Google Voice and Google Checkout enabled in the administrator control panel in order to be able to use this feature."
While Google doesn't come right out and say it, this service roll-out is clearly aimed right at Skype. In its rates charts, Google compares its fees, to their advantage, with those of the "Leading Internet telephony provider." A little research revealed that that leading VoIP company was Skype.
So, here we go again. It's Google vs. Microsoft one more time, but this time it's Google vs. Microsoft/Skype. Let the new Internet VoIP wars begin!