Think Skype has the VoIP calling business on lock? Think again.
Google is quietly moving in on Skype's turf, and while users have long been able to call others from within Gmail, Google's making it even more attractive this week: the company has announced that the service is now being offered in 38 new languages, and users can buy calling credit in their choice of four currencies (Euros, British pounds, Canadian dollars or U.S. dollars) with no connection fees.
In order to toss a wrench in Skype's plans, Google is reducing 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. Calls to the U.S. or Canada placed within those countries will continue to be free at least for the rest of 2011, and calls to the U.S. or Canada placed from outside these countries will be charged $0.01 per minute (or €0.01, £0.01, C$0.01 per minute).
Google will be rolling out this feature over the next few days, and when it becomes available users will see a little green phone icon show up at the top of their chat list (those looking to make calls will need to install the voice and video plug-in if they haven’t already). For Google Apps users, the domain administrator must have Google Voice and Google Checkout enabled in the administrator control panel in order to be able to use this feature.