GT&T: Ma Google Expands Her Comms Service

November 12, 2008

I saw a Reuters story on the South African Web site MoneyWeb.com. The story was “Google’s Gmail Takes on Skype, Adds Video and Voice to Chat.” You can read the story here. Sam Diaz posted “Gmail Expands to Include Voice and Video” here. Both stories explained the new communication features available in Gmail. For me, the most interesting comment appeared in Sam Diaz’s story:

Google launched video and voice chat for Gmail – not necessarily a ground-breaking feature but somewhat different from other models because the feature is built into the Gmail inbox window, instead of a separate application.

The original Google blog post about this development appeared in the Gmail Blog here. Uptake on this story seems rapid. The most interesting comment for me was this remark on the Official Google Blog here:

Video chatting from Gmail is as easy as sending an instant message. With our team spread out across Google offices in Sweden and the U.S., it’s been really handy in helping us work together.

Google seems to be “dog fooding”. This is a term used at places such as Microsoft to describe products used by employees prior to their release.

When I logged into Skype today, there were 14 million users online. Gmail’s new voice feature has a fraction of this user base–for now. My hunch is that Google is continuing its slow, steady march to global telephony. When I read these two stories, I mentally flash forwarded several years. Google is become the Global Telephone & Telegraph Co., a 21st century version of the pre-break up AT&T. Instead of Ma Bell, we now have Ma Google.

Stephen Arnold, November 12, 2008

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