Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) already owns the world's top video-sharing site in YouTube. Now it's ready for its voice chat close-up.

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 (NASDAQ:EBAY) Skype is the top dog here, but Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) Messenger and Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Live Messenger have been doing it for ages.

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 (NASDAQ:LOGI) and Microsoft. Sure, this move diminishes Logitech's move to acquire video chat upstart SightSpeed last month, but all is good if it results in more people gifting Logitech webcams to long-distance friends and family members this holiday season.

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 (NYSE:VG)? Is this the app that bridges its YouTube and GrandCentral purchases? Will I have to make sure that I'm decent the next time I check my Gmail?

When moving pictures and the big picture converge, isn't this ultimately about one more step in Google's quest for global domination?

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