Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Google Voice and Gizmo5 - The future of voice.

In March 2009, Google released a preview of Google Voice, an application that helps you better manage your voice communications. The Google Voice service is currently invitation only and will be its next big step in Unified Communications for Google.

The Google Voice application improves the way you use your phone. Google Voice offers a host of great features, including a single number to ring your home, work, and mobile phones, a central voicemail inbox that you could access on the web, and the ability to screen calls by listening in live as callers leave a voicemail. You also can get transcripts of your voicemail and archive and search all of the SMS text messages you send and receive. You can also use the service to make low priced international calls and easily access Goog-411 directory assistance.

The full feature description can be found here: https://www.google.com/voice/about

For the past few months, WebCanDo engineers have been testing the Google Voice system and we have been impressed with its functionality and features. We found that a single number and unified voicemail is an excellent way to manage your voice calls. The control panel is easy to navigate, the system settings and initial setup are simple. You can add multiple phones, we have tested up to 6 phones that can be integrated. You can add your mobile phone, work, home, and an IP phone. We have also tested the free IP phone client from Gizmo5.

The Gizmo5 phone service is a proprietary SIP freeware soft phone. Unlike Skype, the Gizmo5 network uses open standards for call management, Session Initiation Protocol and XMPP. Gizmo5 uses several proprietary codecs, and like Skype, the Gizmo5 client is closed source software. A Gizmo5 Call in number is sold for $ 35 per year, which is all that is needed. We found a free workaround by dialing ** on your Gizmo5 softphone. You are assigned a 747 number. Since Gizmo5 is based on SIP, it can interoperate with other SIP-based networks. That is where Google Voice comes in.

For inbound calls, the Google Voice service allows you to add the Gizmo5 IP call in number and add it as a device. If someone dials our Google Voice number it places inbound calls to our Gizmo IP phone and all other devices loaded in our Google Voice account. You can set your devices to ring on set schedules like weekdays or weekends only.

For outbound calls, the Google Voice service allows you to determine which device you would like to initiate the call, you can select any device to make the call, it can be your mobile, work, home, or your IP service. The Google Voice service will make the call and bridge the call to the selected device for you. Currently, all Google Voice lines offer unlimited local and domestic long distance service for free. The international service is currently an additional cost, but they do give you .10 cents to test the functionality. Combined with Gizmo5 this service can eliminate the need for a local phone line and your Google Voice service can become your primary line. The advent of the newer headsets and speakerphones that work with SIP softphones to make the Google Voice service an effective value play.

AT&T and Apple have recently blocked the Google Voice service on Iphone devices. The two companies definately see Google as a potential threat. AT&T has everything to lose as its local phone business would be greatly impacted with the launch of a full scale rollout of Google Voice. The wireless business would also lose its international calls as rates for Google Voice are inexpensive as compared to AT&T and Verizon. A call from a mobile phone using AT&T and Verizon Wireless is $ 1.49 to Italy to a landline phone and only .02 with Google Voice, a huge savings.

AT&T says it has absolutely nothing to do with Apple's rejection of Google Voice for the iPhone. The rejection and banning of other Google Voice apps has even led to an FCC investigation. Reuters interviewed Jim Cicconi, AT&T senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs, who said "Let me state unequivocally, AT&T had no role in any decision by Apple to not accept the Google Voice application for inclusion in the Apple App Store," He also added "AT&T was not asked about the matter by Apple at any time, nor did it offer any view one way or the other," Cicconi provided the statement, accompanying a response to a regulatory inquiry into the rejection of Google's voice application by Apple.

Google Voice will definate shape the future of voice, both mobile and landline. The positive press that Google Voice has captured with the beta will all be based on its ability to offer Number Portability. Today you are issued a new phone number when you sign up for Google Voice. But we’ve confirmed that a number of people have ported their existing phone numbers to Google (Google uses Level3 to handle phone numbers and porting). Google is only testing the service for now, but we’ve heard from a source inside Google that they plan to roll out number portability as a general feature later this year.

Once that happens, it will be a matter of time to see how Google Voice and Gizmo5 impacts the future of voice. We bet on Google.