- 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.
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