Google recently introduced “Voice Calls” into its webmail service Gmail, essentially launching a Skype competitor. In the first 24 hours, over one million calls were placed.
Voice calling was initially launched in the United States, so Google is anticipating an increase in number as it is introduced in different countries.
The key word here, however, is “free”: Calls to the U.S. and Canada are completely free (and will stay so for at least the rest of the year), while calls to other countries are billed at modest rates.
Google has already tried to conquer several markets through Gmail — its instant messaging counterpart is very successful, while Buzz, Google’s competitor to Twitter, was much less so. Voice calls seem like a natural addition to Gmail, and if this first figure is any indication, Skype will soon have a very formidable competitor.