When monumental events occur, they are often indelibly imprinted on
your brain. I remember double clicking on my first MP3 song and
listening to CD-like quality sound booming from my PC speakers. The
song was "Take Five"
by Dave Brubeck and it was the "aha" moment when I saw the great
benefit to consumers as the Internet intersected with the music
business. I had a similar "aha" moment 3 weeks ago testing a new program
called PhoneGaim. While walking around the Lindows office with
my WiFi-equipped IBM laptop, I placed a call to Kevin Carmony, Lindows'
President who was on his cell phone. That's right: I was calling from
my PC to his cell phone and the quality was great. The Internet is
colliding with telecom and it will mean huge benefits for
Today, new software
is being released which captures my vision of the next stage of phone
calls. It combines the phone world with
the instant message (IM) world. Previously instant message users and
telephone users were two distinct, non-intersecting populations. There
have been different address books and no interconnectivity even though
phone and IM are
similar styles of immediate communication. Desktop Linux is seeing the
phone and PC worlds melt into one with the release today of the PhoneGaim
software. It makes it
possible for millions of instant messenger users to not only talk to
over their PCs, but more importantly, they can call the 2.5 billion number
telephone network. (Linspire users can immediately use CNR to 1-click
install this software directly onto their computers.)
Here's how PhoneGaim works: We started with the popular Gaim instant
messaging software. (We've financially supported Gaim
in the past and
have always appreciated the great work they've done.) Instead of just
sending text messages and smileys between users, we have added the
ability to dial and receive phone calls. PhoneGaim users simply click a
phone icon and place a call from any 'Net-connected PC with a microphone
and speaker. That call could be to another PhoneGaim user, whose
computer would then ring. The call could be to a SIPphone user using an
Internet phone, or even more impressive, that call could be to a
landline or cell phone anywhere in the world. Now when you really want
to get ahold of someone, you can IM them or make a voice call - it's a
deluxe immediate communication tool.
I've been testing early versions of PhoneGaim
for the last few weeks
while I've been traveling and it has proven incredibly useful. With a
single click of my mouse, I placed calls from hotels in Mexico City and
Milan, directly to people back at the office in front of their
or my family at the house phone, or even my executive team on their
phones - all from my laptop. Using PhoneGaim makes it possible to avoid
costly roaming fees or hotel phone surcharges. Monopoly phone companies
won't be pleased, but consumers undoubtedly will be. The call quality
remarkably good. I placed most of my calls while connected to the
Internet over WiFi, but it will also work over a modem. Most people are
surprised at the clarity of the calls.
Each PhoneGaim user also receives a suite of services as part of their free
account. They get a SIP number for free, which others can use to call them.
Voice mail is included and messages are sent to an email address so you
can check your messages from anywhere that you have access to email. There's
also a complete call history, so you can track all inbound and outbound calls.
These services are available because PhoneGaim uses SIPphone for its
communication back-end, so affordable Internet phones can also
dial and receive calls from PhoneGaim users.
Combining instant messaging and the phone system makes sense because they
immediate types of personal interactions.
Adding hundreds of millions of potential instant messenger users to the
2.5 billion number phone network so they can interconnect, should
expedite the growth of Internet-based calls. For sure, it means big cost
savings as every 'Net-connected PC eventually becomes a phone booth. It
will be fascinating to see if the impact of Internet calling rocks
telecom like MP3 rocked the music business. I hope you'll install
PhoneGaim today. Linspire users can use CNR 1-click, other desktop Linux
users should visit PhoneGaim.com for
further instructions. Let me know in the forum what
you think of the software that Lindows and SIPphone engineers have created.
NOTE: PhoneGaim is only available for desktop Linux computers today,
but a Microsoft Windows version may be created in the future. To read the frequently asked questions about PhoneGaim, click here.
-- MichaelThe Michael's Minute Meter
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