What Google gets with Gizmo5

As rumored, Google Thursday confirmed its purchase of VoIP firm Gizmo5, instantly adding Skype-like functionality — and an open source bent — to its Google Voice service. Credit TechCrunch for sniffing out the deal earlier this week.

The acquisition as it plays out will likely be used by Google to add more integrated outbound and, in particular, computer-based softphone calling to the Google Voice service, more than ever setting up Google Voice as a PSTN or mobile service replacement rather than just a complement as it is today.

Google was circumspect in its announcement of the deal, only saying it would be incorporating the technology into Google Voice and, as when it acquired Grand Central, the technology that became Google Voice, it is shutting down new sign-ups for Gizmo5:

While we don’t have any specific features to announce right now, Gizmo5’s engineers will be joining the Google Voice team to continue improving the Google Voice and Gizmo5 experience.

What comes next:

  • If history repeats itself, Google may take a while to incorporate the technology. Grand Central was quiet for quite a while and then — and still — only available to select users. The rapid evolution of mobile apps and new VoIP plays may, however, speed Google’s hand a bit.
  • Google will no doubt find some interesting ways to use Gizmo5. Already, Google Voice users have leveraged the service as one of their follow-me numbers to hack their way to free (or mostly free because you need a mobile or wired line to make it work) “VoIP-assisted” calls. Look for that capability to become a formal part of Google Voice, joining a slate of other companies providing the telecom capabilities to power Google Voice.
  • At least one way that Gizmo5 is likely to impact Google Voice is via the addition of a softphone client on the Web application. Today, users of Google Voice can sort of “make calls” with the service, entering a number in a Web form that then initiates the service to ring both parties and create a connection. Look for a more integrated softphone client to become part of Google Voice, driven by Gizmo5 client software and backbone infrastructure and protocols. Here’s what the Gizmo5 softphone looks like today:


  • Also possible is the integration of Gizmo5 with Google Talk, Google’s today separate IM and VoIP client. Google will likely use this acquisition to clean up and simplify its telecom/VoIP house, which will be a good thing to drive these capabilities beyond early adopters and out to the masses. Both Google Talk and Google Voice are a little complex and techie today to gain true mass adoption.
  • Google will use its infrastructure and cloud computing expertise to find a way for Gizmo5 to scale. Gizmo5 is based on open standards such as SIP, and Google will be tackling a significant technical challenge to make Gizmo5-driven VoIP calling extend affordably across large numbers of users.

Stay tuned for yet another Google jaunt down telecom way.

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