With that expertise brought in-house, Google can take their popular Google Voice to the next level - namely VoIP. These suspicions are confirmed by Google's Bradly Horowitz who declined to give specifics about Google and Gizmo5 but hinted at their future roadmap when he said, "What we're trying to do with telephony is give people a seamless experience that frees up their telephony communication from the silos where it's lived for the last decade. Voicemail, my contacts, all of those things have been segregated from the rest of my Web experience. We have big plans to do a better job.
According to the eWeek article:
Google Voice, which includes such tools as automatic voicemail transcription, SMS support, conference calling, and low-cost international calling, is free and has more than 1.4 million users.
That pales in comparison to the nearly 500 million users Skype enjoys worldwide, but unlike that popular VOIP app, Google Voice users must have a phone carrier to use the service. However, that will change in 2010.
Google in November acquired Gizmo5, a maker of so-called softphone software that will enable Google Voice to operate like Skype by letting users place calls via the Web from one PC to another or from a PC to a landline or mobile phone.
While it's fair of eWeek to compare Google's Gizmo5 to Skype, I think they're slightly different animals. The majority of the 500 million Skype users make free PC-to-PC calls and instant messages and do not make paid SkypeOut calls. Also, Google Voice has more advanced mobility features, voicemail transcription, and other features that compliment your mobile or landline service. I think Google has a good chance of integrating VoIP with your mobile phone with a single number identity.
In addition, with VoIP termination expertise from Gizmo5 it is quite possible that Google can finally compete not just with SkypeOut, but can become a full phone service provider like Vonage. Granted, Google isn't in the hardware biz - customers would need SIP-based analog telephony adapters to terminate onto the Gizmo5 SIP-based network, but neither is Vonage. You can buy a SIP-based ATA pretty easily and often companies such as Vonage or Packet8 partner with home-based router companies such as Linksys to embed their software with special provisioning firmware. Vonage was able to use their clout to get special deals with Linksys to embed their software, so can you imagine the clout Google carries?
2010 will be an interesting year for VoIP and I have no doubt Google will have some interesting VoIP news up their sleeves.