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November 15, 2009

Google Acquires an Open Source Alternative to Skype

From Wired and Techcrunch - Google has bought Gizmo5, an online phone company that is akin to Skype — but based on open protocols and with a lot fewer users.

Gizmo5’s SIP infrastructure could theoretically replace Skype’s proprietary P2P back end.

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.




Gizmo5 will also help save Google money on phone-call termination fees as users start to use computer-based clients to connect to Google Voice. That would allow Google to recoup the purchase price of $30 million in little time, if only it saves even a few dollars per user per year.

Google also gets Michael Robertson, a troublemaker with technical chops. Robertson made millions from MP3.com in the dot-com boom, despite drawing lawsuits from major record labels for creating innovative services. He was later sued by Microsoft for his startup Lindows, which made Linux installations for cheap PCs. And his current music venture, MP3tunes.com, is being sued by EMI.


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