I have no bias whether GV remains free or not. If it's free, I can have a free landline. If it charges, it will be a reliable VOIP provider that I can rely on for cheap calls. Remember Sunrocket? If it charges more than the business SIP/VOIP rate, they won't have corporate customers. Same for high volume residential rates. For low volume users, I really don't care whether it's 1c or 2c per minute. I just want to drop my landline for $30 a month for nothing much.
GV still haven't announced anything yet. It's not obviously purely base on business decisions of the unit alone. If it is, they have to and can make a decision long ago. GV have to sync with the internet strategies of the other main units. Perhaps they deliberately make announcement randomly at the end of the year to discourage independent developers or users to rely on their current from of service. You are grateful that they are still here and still free. You won't complain and ask for more.
To start charging, they just can't tell current customers you have to pay in 5 days time. If they start charging, they have to provide a whole department of customer services. They cannot discriminate landline users who want to port. They have to provide XMPP to SIP gateway like Obi, which is trivial.
I just realized a few things in the Google internet strategy. DLNA and Google@home.
Every Android is connected to the internet, via wifi or wireless data. Everyone of them are selling ads unless you only use smartphones for dumb phone calls.
More Androids means more revenue.
Every Android since xx.x supports DLNA, enabling your smart TV to play a slide show of photos on your hardware connected to your PC or file server. You can listen to music on your phone, streaming from your PC or file server or media center. All the smart TV supports that. Being Apple, they have their own incompatible standard. So if you want to streaming your music to where you work, Android is for you. I don't know if it works that way now, but it should. Windows supports DLNA since 7, and pretty good at it. Being Microsoft, it must be lagging behind to use an establish standard. I'm sure Windows Mobile OS will support it. Anyway, I think you should be able to control DLNA devices with your phone, whatever it is. I think Apple will lose out in the long run, needing a box to connect to your TV, while DNLA TV's don't need a box.
Google@home go after home automatic via wifi, using Android as the controller of course. $50 a light bulb is laughable, but people have been paying that for a switch. Home automation using power line like X10 are unreliable, or expensive like Instanton. There are newer wireless standards but not doing well. All of these lack a controller with decent UI. Android is the answer. Home automatic may not be the killer app, but home security system apps sure will have much more users.
Apple got there first with the iPhone, but they have nothing other than devices. And so they try to lock in customers by their own standards. Grocery are great apps with a large user bases. Imagine you can use your Android to monitor everybody's alarm system!
Microsoft have the power to play catchup like the xbox with kinect. With Windows phone sure there are some advantages when you are using Windows on your desktop, provided if you don't hate it. But at the end, what do you want from Windows on your phone? Using Microsoft Office? Google office on the cloud is a much better and reliable choice for people on the go. Gone are the days when secretaries are proud that they can do different headers on even and odd pages.
I was surprised that Microsoft want to be more like Apple, device oriented. Yeah, perhaps they know they lost the internet war to Google. Google may not be more profitable, but they just need to dug the trenches and hold up.