There should be an image here!In one of the coolest things to come to Gmail in a very long time, Google’s chat feature just reappeared on my radar thanks in part to the neat feature of being able to call phones from within my email client! But it gets better. Not only does this provide me with the ability to call my friends without a phone, but I can also do video chat now. Best of all, everything is set up cross platform. This means both of my Logitech Web cams and my USB headset all showed up in Chat under the appropriated pull down menus. Everything works, too!

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/_-DzpAg0SdU" width="350" height="288" wmode="transparent" /]

So now the big question: should Skype be worried? Well, I see it like this. Skype must be installed, versions must be kept on by the end user, and frankly, cross platform support has been spotty with most support going to Windows and Windows in the enterprise. Google, on the other hand, is equal across the board. That is just awesome.

Now as neat as all of this is, Skype has a few things going for it. First, it was first and has already penetrated the mobile world and desktop world heavily. Second, you can get Wi-Fi phones just for Skype today. And finally, I can receive calls from POTs lines onto my Skype app install. Google can match the mobile offerings and, like Skype, offers many of the same features. But lacking the GoogleIn (SkypeIn) feature is not going to help its efforts here. One way calling is not going to woo anyone that soon.

Wait, that’s right… Google does indeed offer a Google phone number that you can be reached with. Oh, boy…

Areas where I see Google destroying Skype here are with two huge benefits. Google voicemail transcription and no software updates needed from the end user. In addition to everything above, it’s these two features that will lead the way for Google calling. But with one stroke of the keypad, does Google put the final bullet into Skype’s already festering efforts? Free calling from within the USA (and Canada). That is right, it costs you ZERO to call folks here in the States from your Gmail account. Now how about that, Skype? It wants 2.1 cents where Google is offering this for free in the States? Sounds like people over at Skype are FREAKING OUT… at least I would be. Guess it’ll have to fight a bit harder now that Google is out to eat its lunch.

[Photo above by StephenMitchell / CC BY-ND 2.0]

[awsbullet:skype wi-fi phone]