The online giant is adding voice and video chat to its Gmail interface this week. The move allows account holders to communicate, for free, with fellow members.
Beefing up a text chat platform isn't new. eBay's
This doesn't make Google's entry any less noteworthy. The timing is perfect -- the lousy economy finds folks craving free voice and video communication. The technology is also in place, with even many dirt cheap netbooks coming with integrated webcams these days.
Despite the proliferation of personal computers and laptops with integrated cameras, Google's arrival will probably be good for leading webcam makers like Logitech
The only real mystery at this point is how far Google will be willing to take this. Will it follow Skype in going beyond PC-to-PC usage and begin offering discounted connectivity to landlines and cell phones, further muddying the value proposition of more complete Web-based telcos like Vonage
When moving pictures and the big picture converge, isn't this ultimately about one more step in Google's quest for global domination?
Other ways to spin the content bottle:
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz isn't necessarily ready for his close-up. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.