If you use Google mail then you may have already seen this new feature – from now until the end of the year all calls in the U.S. and Canada will be free. Google Inc. is adding a free e-mail feature that may persuade more people to cut the cords on their landline phones. The service now live enables U.S. users of Google’s Gmail service to make calls from microphone-equipped computers to telephones virtually anywhere in the world.
All calls in the U.S. and Canada will be free through at least the end of the year. That undercuts the most popular PC-to-phone service, Skype, which charges 1.2 cents to 2.1 cents per minute for U.S. calls. It also threatens to overshadow another free PC-to-phone calling service called MagicTalk that was just introduced by VocalTec Communications Ltd. The PC-to-phone calling option initially is being offered only to consumers who have accounts on Google’s Web-based e-mail, but the company left open the possibility that it will be expanded to the millions of businesses and government agencies that rely on Gmail as part of an applications suite that includes other programs such as word processing.