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Google Extends Free 'Calling in Gmail' Service Into 2011

December 21, 2010

Happy Holidays from Google: particularly if you like free phone calls. The company announced on its blog yesterday that it plans to extend its free “Calling in Gmail” service beyond the end of this year, when the company had originally planned to start charging for calls, all the way through next year.

Said the company on its blog, “When we launched calling in Gmail back in August, we wanted it to be easy and affordable, so we made calls to the U.S. and Canada free for the rest of 2010. In the spirit of holiday giving and to help people keep in touch in the New Year, we’re extending free calling for all of 2011.”The soft phone application, which uses your computer's microphone and speakers or a headset, allows you to call any number in the U.S. and Canada from inside your Gmail account. “In case you haven’t tried it yet, dialing a phone number works just like a regular phone. Look for 'Call phone' at the top of your Gmail chat list and dial a number or enter a contact’s name,” noted the blog.

Generous? Yes, but there may be a reason for it. Google may be extending the service largely because it hasn't been able to attract as many users as it had hoped back in August, IDC analyst Rosalind Craven told IDG News Service.

Though the service is free for calls in the U.S. and Canada, it is available for a low per-minute calling rate to users in other countries: calls to the U.K., France, Germany, China, Japan and others are about $0.02 per minute.

For more info about the service, visit gmail.com/call.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for unified communications. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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