Users of Gmail's calling features in the United States and Canada will continue to be able to make free domestic calls through 2013, Google says.
Gmail's voice feature was introduced in 2008 and was said to support such free calling for an introductory period, and has been extended every year, about this time, since late 2008.
Since Google incurs real termination costs for delivering those calls, there cannot be any assurance that the policy will continue indefinitely.
Nor, apparently, does Google necessarily think providing voice services is necessarily a great way to make money. Voice generates lots of traffic. It is a very "sticky" application. Voice usage adds one more dimension to a social graph.
Knowledge of how voice gets used makes it easier to understand a user's social context and interactions. Given the huge value advertising, especially targeted, personalized advertising and marketing has for Google, voice therefore has strategic value.
Google arguably is not interested in providing "unified communications" as such. But Google might be very interested in mining the relationships, circles and interactions between people who use Gmail.
For most companies, that would not be a value great enough to essentially give people "free calling" services. But Google is not like "most companies."
Thursday, December 27, 2012
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