Google is reportedly testing a voice over IP (VoIP) service for Gmail users, in the first sign the search giant might look to take on Skype and other global telecom players.
The firm is testing voice functionality linked to the Chat instant messenger feature on its Gmail mailboxes, allowing users to call numbers in their Google address book, CNET.com reports.
Google will likely use technology from Gizmo5 in the new application, after buying the firm last year, CNET said.
Although the firm already offers Google Voice, a desktop client that offers access to a US phone number, and call and message forwarding, that service does not use VoIP.
The IP-based trial indicates Google is preparing to take on global telecoms players including Skype, the world’s largest carrier of international voice minutes.
Skype, which is planning an IPO by the year-end, delivered 95 billion calling minutes in the first half of 2010, 40% of which were video.
Google had 176 million Gmail users in December 2009, according to comScore.