August 30, 2010

Free Phone via Google Vs. --?

As reported rather breathlessly by The NYT, you can now make and receive phone calls to/from regular phones from/at your computer for free, without using iChat or Skype, although you have to set up Gmail and Google Voice accounts to do it. This is "a big deal" because:

The ultimate, of course, would be free calls from a phone, to a phone. But until now, all we’ve been able to do is dance around that concept.

For example, chat programs let you make free calls, computer-to-computer. Skype lets you make free calls from your cellphone, but not to regular phone numbers. Skype and Line2 let you make calls from your cellphone (when you’re in a 3G area or on Wi-Fi), to actual phone numbers — but not free.

What Voice Calls from Gmail does is open up another variation, one that [enables free] calls “from a computer, to a phone.” . . . What if Google released an app like that for Android phones, or the iPhone? . . . At that point, you could, for the first time in history, make unlimited free phone-to-phone calls.

. . . That development would cause conniptions at the cellphone companies, that’s for sure."

Of course, some of us might actually still be willing to purchase our phone services from AT&T et al. in exchange for greater privacy. But then, they'd have to provide privacy.

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