Google announced that it will be offering free Gmail voice calling for another year in the US and Canada. Google Product Manager Mayur Kamat made this entry to the blog.
Many of you call phones from Gmail to easily connect with friends and family. If you’re in the US and Canada, you’ll continue to be able to make free domestic calls through 2013. Plus, in most countries, you can still call the rest of the world from Gmail at insanely low rates.
This will be the third consecutive year where Google is offering free domestic calling. Since last two years, at the end of the year (in the holiday period) Google announces that it is extending the free domestic voice calling for the next year.
Google announced video chat feature to Gmail in 2008 and then the voice calling feature in 2010. Initially, Google offered the voice calling feature free for one year and decided to make it a paid service then. Again, Google extended the free service for another year (2012) and also did the same yesterday for 2013.
Still, not wanting to discourage the international users, Google is offering voice calling through Gmail and Google Voice at reasonable rates. Free calling through US and Canada is only available through Gmail voice calling and from the desktop Gmail chat widget.
It is still unknown why Google is extending the free calling service from last two years. However, it seems that Google may be competing with Skype or other VoIP services for that matter.