Google has officially launched its web based VoIP client, which is integrated into the Gmail service.
When we went to check our Gmail inbox first thing this morning, we found the new Call Phone icon ensconced at the top of our contacts list on the left hand side menu.
The service can be used to call landlines and mobile phones directly within Gmail, in the same manner as Skype, who naturally enough will be somewhat concerned about this particular finger Google has stuck into another pie.
All you need to do to get Gmail’s Call Phone service going is to download the voice plug-in, and then use the pop-up phone keypad to ring a number.
Google says that calls to the US and Canada are free throughout 2010, and international calls are billed at “insanely low rates”. Australia, for example, is 2 cents per minute, and a mobile in Australia is 14 cents per minute. Check out the full rate card for more details.
Google posted on its official blog page: “We’ve been testing this feature internally and have found it to be useful in a lot of situations, ranging from making a quick call to a restaurant, to placing a call when you’re in an area with bad reception.”
Currently Google says that it’s rolling the service out in the US over the next few days, and international users won’t see it just yet, but as we mentioned, it’s popped up on our Gmail account already. Do any other UK Gmailers see it?
Ed’s note: This isn’t the first VoIP service Google have launched – anyone remember Google Talk? The specific difference here appears to be that Google Voice is integrated into Gmail, and therefore may be more accessible.
However, Google have flopped with every paid product they have tried to launch outside of search, failing to gain any significant market share everytime they have tried to break out.
So it remains to be seen whether Google can actually succeed with Google Voice where they have already failed with Google Talk – and a range of other services.