Its not so long ago that the idea of free phone calls over the Internet would have been thought an impossibility, but as any knowledgeable user will tell you they are now commonplace. Skype the pioneer and market leader has 51 million users and a great, easy to use software package that allows your computer to make Internet phone calls between subscribers.
All you need is a reasonable computer, preferably a broadband connection but it will work over a dial up connection, and a microphone, then as long as the person you want to contact is online and also signed up to the same service, you can talk for ever for no cost.
This is possible because your speech is sent over the Internet in the data packets, just like email or any other Internet service. Microsoft, AOL, BT and Yahoo all have their own instant voice messaging services and now Google has joined in, with the launch of its instant messaging and Internet Phone service Google Talk. The service will be free to all users of its email program Gmail. This must be causing Googles competitors some concern, because as we all know from past, experience when Google does something they always want to be the market leader.
Google Talk will have the traditional uncluttered Google look which users have come to expect, to use Google Talk you must sign up for a Gmail Account. Google is making Google talk an open service, by working with EarthLink to connect with their Vling communications service and with Sipphone on using their Gizmo project, which will mean that users of Google Talk can send messages to users of other networks, unlike all their major rivals.
This means that Google Talk will be free for calls to other networks, unlike the services from AOL, Microsoft, etc where calls are only free between subscribers of their individual services. When it was announced this was seen as such a significant development that Skype immediately responded by announcing that they would also be making their network available to calls from other networks. At the moment Skype also has the advantage that its users can make calls from their computer to a landline or mobile phone, initially Google Talk will only offer Pc to PC communication, I wonder how long that will remain the case?
To start, with Google Talk will be free from adverts but that will probably change in the future, it is hoped that the launch of the service will increase the use of Gmail, where Google earns income by placing adverts targeted at the subject matter of the email.
This is a very significant step in the development of Internet phone calling services using VoIp and I expect that Google will make every effort to become the market leader.