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Google + Gizmo5
With Google’s recent acquisition of Gizmo5, the words “Google me, baby”, from Teyana Taylor’s hit song, are about to take on a whole new meaning. “Google me” will more likely replace “call me” or “Skype me” instead. Google is no longer just an Internet search engine used for locating celebrity gossip or reviews about local dentists. It is becoming a major player in the Internet communications industry.
Google Talk + Grand Central = Google Voice
In 2007, Google integrated their Google Talk, with features like instant messaging and computer-to-computer voice and video chat, with the then newly purchased Grand Central creating Google Voice. Google Voice is a free service that is currently available by invitation only, which means that you need to email Google a request and then wait for an invitation from them in order to join. Some services that Google Voice currently offers are:
- One phone number for all of your phones
- Conference calling
- Call screening
- Call forwarding and blocking
- Voicemail--including voicemail transcripts
- Lower priced International calling
Gizmo5 + Google Voice = ?
With the addition of Gizmo5 to the Google family, Google will now become a solid competitor of Skype, which is practically a household name in business and personal communications. Gizmo5 is very similar to Skype in that the software is free and can be downloaded from the company’s website. The software allows users to make free calls to other users. According to Google’s weblog, Gizmo5 “provides Internet-based calling software for mobile phones and computers.” In other words, Gizmo5 will not only provide computer-to-computer communication, but also computer-to-phone communication, and mobile phone service.
Google’s acquisitions have not gone unnoticed by others in the communication world. AT&T recently filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) against Google Voice complaining that Google is blocking some numbers in certain areas and that this violates laws that govern common carriers. Google’s response to AT&T’s complaint is posted on their Public Policy Blog (http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com). In their response, Richard Whitt, Google’s Washington Telecom and Media counsel, admits that Google does restrict certain calls to areas with high access charges, but states that because, unlike traditional phone companies, they are a free, invitation-only, “Web-based software application,” the same rules and regulations that apply to traditional carriers do not apply to Google Voice. He also says that Google is not trying to be a traditional phone service, and that Google Voice requires phone existing lines in order to work. The old adage, “Be careful what you wish for…” may apply here. If AT&T is hoping to force Google to behave like a common carrier, with the addition of Gizmo5 and who knows what else Google has up their sleeve, they may actually become a common carrier and then a formidable competitor for AT&T.
Although Google has not been very forthcoming about what new services they plan to offer their customers with this new acquisition, they say they are looking forward to “bringing more useful features to Google Voice.” We will have to just wait and see what those features will be and what impact they will have on the communication industry.
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