In case you haven't seen this yet: Google has now rolled out a “Call Phones from Gmail” service. It's an extension of their Gmail Voice and Video Chat – except now you can call someone's phone from within Gmail, instead of both of you being at the computer. Free.

Here's the official Google Blog announcement. If you already have a Gmail account, you can see the call service here:

This being from Google (and being free for US and Canada calls) means one thing – somebody else is now under threat. Who?

Is OCS In Danger?

Since this IS the OCS Insider, naturally I'm tackling the question of OCS 2007/2010 coming under threat from this new Gmail service. Will free calls from within Gmail shrink adoption of Office Communications Server?

It seems possible. But I don't think so.

Why not?

Different Purposes.
OCS is a business communication platform. It isn't restricted to one app (or Web app). And its purpose is to provide multiple avenues for workers to communicate, not just phone calls.

This “Gmail Call” service could work very well for small businesses already using Google Apps. But…

No Google Apps Support – Yet.
The announcement indicates that Google Apps users won't see this service yet. Free phone service will be coming, but they don't say when.

It's not Internal.
Many organizations like (or need) to keep track of calls. This is easy with OCS' Conversation History. Not so easy with a third party service like Gmail.

OCS isn't Skype.
Skype is the world's #1 VoIP service. They're the top dog in the field at present. You're always the main target when you're at the top of the mountain.

And finally, No Mobile Support.
There aren't any plans for this from Google, according to a CNET review. You might be able to make Gmail phone calls work on a mobile, with a little tweaking. But as I've pointed out in the past, the Office Communicator client and Communicator Web Access (CWA) work on several mobiles already.

So no, I'm not worried about OCS. In fact, I think Gmail Phone Calls will make for a great consumer alternative! An easy,free introduction to VoIP tech. That only reflects well on future business use.

Planning to try phone calls out in Gmail? What's your impression?

Do Phone Calls Through Gmail Threaten OCS?
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