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Rory Cellan-Jones

Look out Skype, Google's calling

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 12 Nov 08, 10:45 GMT

Overnight, and with little fanfare, Google has released another product which should help
in its quest for total domination of the web. It's added voice and video to its Gmail chat service. For Skype, the service which has become synonymous wih internet telephony, this is something of a wake-up call.

Once you download the plug-in from Google, the idea is that you can then call - and even see - the people you contact with the Gmail chat service. I can't yet tell you how it works because I'm writing this in bed at 0645, and I feel it's a little early to call.

But Google already has many millions using its Gmail, and they may now constitute a big audience for a voice service. Of course relatively few people with a Gmail address use the chat function at the moment - but they may now think it is worthwhile.

For eBay, which owns Skype, this is not great news. It may well have nearly 300 million users - but it is still struggling to show that it can turn a decent profit from them. Now along comes yet another copycat service - but this time it's badged with the best-known brand on the web.

But Microsoft too will be watching this move with unease. A few weeks after it announced its big move into cloud computing - or "software plus services" as it prefers to call it - its deadly rival has added yet another application to its web offering. From now on, you'll be invited to spend more and more of your time writing, reading, sharing and talking in Google's cloud. Microsoft - which of course is very well entrenched in the chat business with MSN messenger - will be trying to convince us that a Windows world is a better place to hang out.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    But what if you type 'reboot' into a chat Window? Will my computer automagically reboot itself?

  • Comment number 2.

    I tried the service last night, and, after getting my friend to install the plugin also, it worked...minus the sound. It has a long way to go before Skype needs to be worried.

    Where is the conference calls feature? PC-to-Phone calls? Google-Chat enabled phones? Skype already has this and it works seamlessly.

    As for cloud computing, I agree with Richard Stallman when he said was stupid. I already have a cloud computing for my laptop: its called a carrying case. The benefit is that no-one controls my data except me.

  • Comment number 3.

    I don't know why but sometimes i found Rory Cellan-Jones very much biased toward Google, MAN Google is not answer to every questions, its just now matter of time Microsoft is going to buy Yahoo and then they will have 85% of messenger market and their service in that area is much better than Google talk and their new video thing. I Google has to worry about ZOHO which is coming with great force, they have products which are not "just" way better than Google, man Google is just using their names and thats all, and i remember one thing which once Microsoft people say, Google has just make only one Products which makes them great and that is Search and other product of their simply SUCKS.Google look at your BACK ZOHO is coming!

  • Comment number 4.

    As much as you complain that the Google products are not of the quality of their competition I'm afraid that Googles branding and a 'one stop shop' for all of your service will win over the smaller organisations with one high quality product. That's just the way it is. Peter Byrne I hope that you have had a look at the security risks of your personel 'Cloud' :-)

  • Comment number 5.

    But Microsoft too will be watching this move with unease. A few weeks after it announced its big move into cloud computing - or "software plus services" as it prefers to call it - its deadly rival has added yet another application to its web offering. From now on, you'll be invited to spend more and more of your time writing, reading, sharing and talking in Google's cloud. Microsoft - which of course is very well entrenched in the chat business with MSN messenger - will be trying to convince us that a Windows world is a better place to hang out.

    ------------

    Try actually reading before commenting next time. Microsoft's idea of cloud computing is not the same as Googles, what MS means is far more like the service that BT and Amazon provide in remove processing and storage where the user effectively rents processing power on an as need basis.

    Google on the other hand talk of it as an online document repositary and editing service. Nowhere enar the same thing.

  • Comment number 6.

    5 - You seem to be a little out of date. As well as the end-user targetted Google Apps system you refer to they also have the Google App Engine system that runs other people's code in Googles data centres. It's not identical to either MS's offering or Amazon's EC2, but it's in the same general area.

    Furthermore MS have their 'Office Live Workspace' system in beta at the moment that provides online analogues of the main Office apps that run in a web browser, just like Google Apps.

    So, in fact, both Google and MS have both 'run your code on our servers' and 'run apps in a browser' varieties of cloud computing on offer, so they actually are pretty much the same.

  • Comment number 7.

    There you are, typing into your cloud based Word 2007, just about to paste something, considering whether you have time for a coffee, knowing this has to be done by the morning... and Virgin/BT/whoever decides that it's time for you to become slightly balder and have an early night...

    I don't trust hard-drives, usb etc storage. I always have a paper copy of everything - just in case - and I certainly don't like the idea of my applications being dependent upon a working internet connection. I shall remain ground based.

  • Comment number 8.

    It was over a year ago that Google purchased Grand Central in the US. Since then they haven't done very much with it. The combination of the two would be an interesting development

  • Comment number 9.

    Having recently had a series of interviews with Skype, I can tell you that there are big changes afoot.

    Firstly, there is to be a wave of redundancies linked to the EBay clear-out (especially in its european HQ).
    Secondly, EBay are lining up to sell Skype. Why? Ebay paid far too much money for Skype at the time but it is now the fastest growing part of the eBay empire with a turnover in excess of 350mm USD annually.

    Expect strong interest from the likes of Google or another major player.

    Why would Google buy Skype? Google Talk
    has the second mover problem (everyone already has Skype and why should we switch). Secondly, Skype have a massive user base and are making strong inroads into the corporate market. This could be a key player in driving the Cloud computing war which is just beginning.

  • Comment number 10.

    I was having voice chats via a Gmail sign in years ago - Obviously I'm missing something here, because I can't see what's new? Admittedly I've not tried it for ages, so perhaps that was a beta service since lost? I must have a look and see if it's still set up when I've finished work. Meantime if anyone can shed any light on that I'd be interested to hear.

    MSN and Yahoo are for kids. If you want a proper cross-platform service offering video/audio/text and calls in or out to a 'proper' telephone, you need Skype.

  • Comment number 11.

    addendum ... I have 'Google Talk' configured in my iMac's iChat client, plus two contacts I used to have occasional voice chats with. We're going back maybe three yers here though.

    It makes use of a gmail email address and the Jabber message protocol.

  • Comment number 12.

    I had my wife install the new google voice plugin on her mac and her sister 400mi away install the plugin on her PC and they were up and running doing video chat within 20 minutes, using the gmail page as an easy and familiar springboard to get it started.

    Contrast this with the hours wasted (unsuccessfully) trying to get iChat to talk to video AIM, problems with firewalls, userids, obscure windows port settings etc. (granted most problems at the windows end)

    Like almost all google apps... video chat just worked, and the price is great (i.e. free)

    That's why Google will continue to dominate in almost all areas they venture into and I say good luck to them, they deserve their continued success - they have the superior products in the marketplace.

  • Comment number 13.

    "For eBay, which owns Skype, this is not great news. It may well have nearly 300 million users - but it is still struggling to show that it can turn a decent profit from them."

    In fact, Skype's doing pretty well - revenue for the third quarter of 2008 was $143M US, and it's been growing every quarter. Skype contributes about 10% of eBay's total revenue.

    http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/10/15/as-ebays-core-business-hits-hard-times-skype-begins-to-shine/

  • Comment number 14.

    So will Google entice people into combing their hair for making a call? Video chat is known tech, but the same cant be said of consumer preferences or business models surrounding it. Google has the wherewithal to get into every aspect/application of the web, but then it should accept consequent success ratios. I for one don't believe that the world is waiting for yet another video chat, unless the business model is based on basic instinct.

    For Skype, this is no alarm. Yahoo chat, MSN, AOL and several others have been doing this for ages. And they have peacefully coexisted with Skype.

    If I were Skype, I would probably be more scared when Google does this on Android (rather than on PC). Now, that's something that Google for a rainy day ...



  • Comment number 15.

    It is going to take something big from Google to take users away from Skype. This report by Rory doesnt show what that big thing is.

    However, now Google is a player in the mobile phone space, perhaps we can see some alignment between their VOIP and Mobile services - free calls to ANY line, ANYWHERE, anyone?!

  • Comment number 16.

    I've had Google talk for ages - I swapped to google Talk Beta ... has to be over a year now, because I used to spend a lotof time talking to firneds and skype didn't seem to like it when a call went over 3 hours.. it would randomly make people talk like Daleks and then hang up.

    Google was so simple and easy it just worked and didn't gof nearly an resourced. I could also use the mini chat option in the Gmail inbox at college to talk to friends when MSN and Yahoo were blocked.

    I don't use many voice chatting systems any more (I now work on phones so I don't want to go home and be on one!!!) but I may have a look at Google talk now its out of Beta.

  • Comment number 17.

    *I apologise for many Typo's... Typing over a chicken wrap on my lunch break :)*

  • Comment number 18.

    Rory,
    There is enough competition out there for both Skype and Google.

 

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