In an instant, Gmail becomes one of the most used telephony clients

Internet speed. That’s how fast some of today’s tech companies operate.

For example, Google. Just yesterday morning (Eastern Time) as I started my daily routine of catching up on news from the hundreds of RSS feeds I subscribe to, the leading tech blogs all echoed the tip about Google testing voice features within Gmail — Google Voice not required, either. Then BOOM! — a few hours later, even before the electrons calmed down on the blogs, Google made it official.

Skype and Microsoft didn’t even have a chance to see what hit ’em.

Actually, maybe not quite. I’m sure Skype already has drawn a bullseye on Google’s front, and Microsoft’s drawn one on Google’s back. Who can blame them? In a matter of hours the Big G turned its popular Web-based email client into a popular Web-based telephony client. And the Interwebs went wild.

Another step toward UC? Some think so, per Dave Michels of Pin Drop Soup:

UC? Absolutely. Google is taking UC to a fairly comprehensive level with a single number integrated to email, voice mail, chat, presence, voice mail, contacts, mobility, and video – not to mention its collaboration capabilities. Google is keeping it all at a consumer level, but I contend an enterprise version is coming.

Google is putting together a comprehensive strategy unified communications. Consider all the Gmail users, all the Google Voice users (over a million), all the Android users, and it becomes pretty compelling pretty quickly that the competitive landscape in telephony can change pretty quickly.

Over at GigaOM, the thought is that Google should really make Gmail the hub of all communications — including social media:

Google should add the ability to send and receive Twitter direct messages and interoperate with Facebook messaging, so we could have a full-blown communications platform. You can start and end your day in this hub without losing it once. Gmail leverages three of Google’s mainstay strengths: infrastructure, search and simplicity of user experience. If Google were smart, it would take a boatload of money and invest in making Gmail the center of all its forays into social and the enterprise (which would mean making Google Voice work with the Google Apps version of Gmail).

Skype may boast 590 million users, but it lacks good collaboration plugins; and mostly, it lacks cash to go head-to-head with the likes of Google and Microsoft. Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail both surpass Gmail is user base, but they both lack the rich features and simplicity of Gmail.

I can say with certainty that millions of other users startup their browsers with Gmail as the first “go to” site. My next app? Skype. Now I’m wondering if I’ll ever need to click that Skype icon again…


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