Friday, November 13, 2009

Google buys Gizmo: a new phone company?

I first posted about Gizmo back in February of 2007:

Gizmo Project: Call Pope Benedict for Free

Gizmo creator Michael Robertson had some interesting things to say about Gizmo and about telephone service. Well now that Gizmo has been bought by Google, there is talk of a new phone company:

Google poised to become your phone company
(Wired) -- Google is set to become your new phone company, perhaps reducing your phone bill to zilch in the process.


Google has bought Gizmo5, an online phone company that is akin to Skype  but based on open protocols and with a lot fewer users. TechCrunch, which broke the news on Monday, reported that Google spent $30 million on the company.

Google announced the Gizmo acquisition on Thursday afternoon Pacific Time. Gizmo5's founder Michael Robertson, a brash serial entrepreneur, will become an Adviser to Google Voice.

It's a potent recipe -- take Gizmo5's open standards-based online calling system. Add to it the new ability to route calls on Google's massive network of cheap fiber. Toss in Google Voice's free phone number, which will ring your mobile phone, your home phone and your Gizmo5 client on your laptop.

Meanwhile you can use Gizmo5 to make ultracheap outgoing calls to domestic and international phone numbers, and free calls to Skype, Google Talk, Yahoo and AIM users. You could make and receive calls that bypass the per-minute billing on your smartphone.

Then layer on deluxe phone services like free SMS, voicemail transcription, customized call routing, free conference calls and voicemails sent as recordings to your e-mail account, and you have a phone service that competes with Skype, landlines and the Internet telephone offerings from Vonage and cable companies.

That's not just pie in-the-sky dreaming.

Ask longtime VOIP watcher and consultant Andy Abramson, who introduced the idea of integrating Gizmo5 and Grand Central (now Google Voice), long before Google bought either. [...]

I think this is something to watch. It might become something really big, and make big changes in the way phone companies do buisiness.

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