Gmail's free phone calls to the US and Canada extended through 2013

It's the day after Christmas, but that doesn't mean companies don't have some announcements to make about free stuff. Today, that task falls to Google. The company has been providing free phone calls to anywhere in the US and Canada, via its phone widget, since it launched in August 2010. The free call offer was supposed to stop at the end of that year, but Google extended the offer to the end of 2011, and then again to the end of 2012.

With just a few days left until we say, "Good-bye" to 2012, Google has once again extended the free phone call offer on Gmail. In a post on the official Gmail blog, the company said, "if you're in the US and Canada, you'll continue to be able to make free domestic calls through 2013. Plus, in most countries, you can still call the rest of the world from Gmail at insanely low rates."

Google's Gmail phone client competes in a small way with Microsoft's Skype service. Skype's owner Microsoft recently launched a promotion that gives people a way to get a free month of Skype Premium service, which allows for free calls to landlines in 40 countries and free calls to mobile phones in seven countries, including the US and Canada.

Source: Gmail blog | Image via Google

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Excuse the n00b question since I've never used Skype to actually call anywhere, but you won't actually get charged if someone calls your cell phone via Skype?

This with Google Voice is the BEST thing that Google has and the only thing that ties me deeply to their ecosystem. Nothing like this out there.

Unless some can convince me how Skype can do this (and yes, I know Skype can do so much more but I just want what GV offers right now) ...

Wow, I remember back in the day when I thought it was so cool to use a program on dialup that could actually call any telephone, oh how the internet has changed.

Goggle business model is making things free and then getting their revenue through advertisements.

In other words, create a monopoly, so that you can profit from having a monopoly (see Android).

Honestly, it baffles me how regulators aren't actively punishing Google for doing something that is illegal and immoral.

(P.S. I know this kind of business model is studied in Economics, anyone knows the name?)

I use this almost every day. Since I started using google voice a few years ago to take advantage of free SMS on my phone. Then I started using it to forward calls to my phone, since I switched carriers, then I ported my main number into google voice. Then I used it to save minutes with AT&T. I have an unlimited calling plan on tmobile now, but I like the convince of being able to pick up calls directly on my computer when I have my headset on when sitting at my desktop.

I'm glad its free again, but if Google decided to charge, I would be kinda forced to buy into the program. IMHO it would be very worth it to me if it was $50 a year.

Walrush said,
And yet again those of us outside the US and Canada get forgotten by Google.

Of course, somebody has to pay for our free calls

You clearly don't understand how Google as a company works.

Google already has the infrastructure, and VOIP service isn't costing them a dime, plus it brings users to GMail. Google sales targeted advertisement to companies which show up in GMail, and Google makes a boatload of cash.

Google uses speech to text to transcribe everything said in your conversation to build up a customer profile database and serve you ads to make money.