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Google Voice Challenges Skype

Aug 29th 2010 at 10:02 AM

Internet Telephony. Love it. Hate it. Teleconference. Add video and Texting.

Conferences by phone are a mainstay of many types of business (the dreaded Monday morning conference call), and groups on the internet are finding it to be efficient and cost-effective in helping to direct their efforts. The ability to call many people, or connect with one person makes this form of communication ideal for many business situations.

While landline systems can be used, many are switching to phone-over-the-internet services such as Skype and Google Voice due to a combination of advantages that they have such as price, flexibility and video capability.

The two largest of these services are, as mentioned above, Skype and Google.

Skype has been around since 2003. Though Google has offered voice and video chat since 2008, it wasn’t until recently that it became a major competitor to Skype. The new Google Voice, released on Wednesday, August 25, 2010 offers some features that are expected to put some pressure on Skype.

One of the cool things about what Google has done is the concept of Forwarding calls. In itself, the concept is not new, but how it will work will make contacting people a lot easier. Briefly each user will be given a Google number. When someone calls that number the call will ring through to any combination of or all of your phones. So if a friend calls, it might ring your home and mobile phone, if family calls all phones may ring, and if the boss calls on your day off….well, you get the idea.

What are some of the other major differences? Let’s take a look.

1. Application
Google’s service: Google Voice via Gmail, though integrated into the Gmail suite, requires that you download another plug-in to integrate it with the current Google Chat. Previously, you could call computer-to-computer, but now you can also call computer-to-phone, whether it be landline, moble or a VOIP phone. For those users who use Google Apps in for business purposes, you may want to take a look at Mitch Wagner’s blog post on Google business customers and Google Voice.

Skype’s service: Skype runs out of it’s own application. Calling landlines, mobile or VOIP phones has been standard fair for a while.

Google’s service: Google Voice is offering free call from the U.S. and Canada until the end of 2010. So far it seems that there is no indication as to what prices may end up being (or will they still be free?), but if current international prices are any indication, they should be quite competitive. Right now you can call a number of international numbers for just 2 cents a minute.

Skype’s service:  Skype-to-Skype calls are free, and calls to landlines and mobile phones start at 2.1 cents a minute. They do, however, offer a monthly plan for $2.99 for unlimited calls within the U.S. and Canada, and $7.99 for the Unlimited North Americana plan (Mexico included). There is also a $13.99 unlimited Worldwide plan that allows you to call over 40 countries more. However, there is talk that, well it is possible to talk too much. See for yourself.

3. Functionality
Google’s service: Apparently many people found it to be quite easy to use - in the first 24 hours 1 million people placed calls using the service. For an in-depth description, this New York Times article on Google Voice explains quite well,

Skype’s service: Most people seem to find Skype’s interface easy to use as well. Check out’s “Skype 101” page.
4. Conference Calling
Google’s service:  Google Voice allows for you to hold conference calls with a  total of 4 people. While solo calls can be recorded, it appears that, currently, conference calls cannot.

Skype’s service: With Skype, you can conference up to 25 people, either by calling a group or calling one person and adding others to the call. Conference calls can be recorded.

5. Accessibility 
Google’s service: Currently Google’s newest application is active in the U.S. only. The company is working on getting it out in other countries. In addition to the Gmail-based service, Google will be placing phone booths around the country, including at college campuses as a promotion where people can place free calls for a limited duration. Superhero outfit not included.

Skype’s service: Sadly, no phone booths, but the service is offered around the world.

For quite some time Skype has been the way to go to place voice calls via the internet. With inexpensive Skype to phone and free Skype-to-Skype calls, it just made sense. Add all the other features, and for those in the know, Skype was chosen a winner by 24 million internet users. Now, though, customers have a choice, and Google has added some nice new features to it’s Gmail Suite and Google Voice package.

Which do you plan to use?

Please to comment
Sep 27th 2011 at 6:31 PM by igytomas
Interesting, it is a year since its launch and somehow I didn't hear about that! Will take a look. Is it possible I ignored it?
Sep 8th 2010 at 10:46 PM by TimRR
Super good information,, Very well done
Aug 29th 2010 at 12:02 PM by nancyradlinger
This is great article and you have done a great job listing the pros and cons of both - I really like that - keep up the great job and look forward to more of your post. Nancy Skype: nancyradlinger

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