Google extends free phone call offer for US Gmail users

The search giant extends its offer of free calls for all of 2011 as it tries to attract more users

Gmail users in the U.S can continue call phones in North America and Canada for free after the new year, Google said in a blog post on Monday.

When Google announced the ability to make phone calls from Gmail in August its plan was to offer free calls to the U.S. and Canada until the end of this year. But now users will be able to make free calls to those destinations for all of 2011, Google said. Calls to other countries will continue to carry a charge.

The most likely reason for the extension is that Google hasn't been able to attract as many users as it had hoped back in August, according to Rosalind Craven, senior research analyst at IDC.

Google can afford to offer free calls to fixed and mobile phones in an effort to attract more users because it isn't as dependent on making money from the calls as Skype, Craven said. If Google one day decides to start charging, usage will inevitably go down, and its continued popularity will be decided by factors like quality, ease-of-use and how well integrated it has become in the way people communicate, she said.

Offering the ability to make phone calls from large Web services like Gmail is starting to chip away at operator revenue, according to Ben Wood, director of research at CCS Insight.

The voice services Google is offering now are only the beginning: network operators should start to get really nervous when Google introduces an easy-to-use service that is tightly integrated with its Android smartphone and tablet operating system, Wood said. There is already anecdotal evidence that business travellers are using Skype on their smartphones to make phone calls while abroad, threatening operators' still-lucrative roaming business, Wood said.

Calling from Gmail is only available to users based in the U.S., and Google has not said when Gmail users in other parts of the world will have access to the service, a spokeswoman at Google said.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags internetGoogleskypevoiptelecommunicationMailInternet-based applications and servicesTelephony/conferencing

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?