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Google Opens Talks To The World

This week, I had planned to write about the release of Gizmo Project 1.0 along with a list of spectacular features not found in any other calling software like voicemail, SMS notification, call record, and blasts (amazingly fun sound effects you can play during a phone conversation like a radio DJ) etc. There is even a Linux version of Gizmo Project debuting, to go along with the existing Macintosh OS X and Microsoft Windows versions. (Linspire users can install with one click using CNR.) But I think there's something more significant to talk about.

Learn more about Gizmo Project
Google is announcing new instant messaging/VOIP (net calling) software called Google Talk. Google's plan is sure to get considerable attention as reporters chronicle Google's efforts to play catchup to the instant messenger leaders like AOL, MSN and Yahoo!. But there's something much more noteworthy about the announcement. Google is agreeing to connect to other networks - something the big three instant messaging companies have refused to do. My company, SIPphone, has agreed to join into a federation with Google to use open standards and allow our customers to trade instant messages and voice calls.

Imagine if the telephone system worked in a way that prevented a Verizon customer from calling an AT&T customer, who in turn couldn't call a T-Mobile customer. It would cause chaos, high prices, and slow innovation. But this is exactly how instant messaging and early net calling networks, like Skype, work today. Friends on AIM can't communicate with others on Yahoo or MSN. I've written about this in the past and how it's detrimental to global communications. We need communication systems based on global directories, which requires companies to set aside the competitive drive that compels them to want to control the entire system and agree to cooperate.

Google's monumental announcement lays the groundwork for a shift in how instant messaging and voice will work in the future. It's the first time a major net company has agreed to use open standards and connect their network to others. Future releases of Gizmo Project will allow voice calls and instant messages to and from Google Talk. This is made possible because Google is using Jabber, (an instant messaging standard which Gizmo Project is also employing) and also providing a SIP interchange (SIP is standard often used for voice calls - and where SIPphone derived its name).

Google Talk is a very remedial Microsoft Windows-only communication program. Those users looking for full-featured net calling software will be highly disappointed because it is missing voicemail, conference calling, ability to call or receive calls from mobile phone or landlines, and many other basic functions found in Gizmo Project. Similarly, it's a very lightweight instant messenger without many features like smileys, pounce, avatars, group chats, etc., that people who use instant messengers have come to rely on. It will surely improve on both fronts. Google Talk's significance is definitely not its feature set, but the pressure it will put on AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo! to open their own networks or risk being run over by the rest of the world who will eventually join the federation, link their user directories, and trade instant messages and voice calls.

With Gizmo Project, we've had a policy from day one to connect to every network - even those of direct competitors. We are connected to nearly 20 voice networks. In addition, we now have more than 150,000 university phones reachable via GUPS. Google's commitment to talking to the rest of world will definitely help expand that list. I hope you'll give Gizmo Project a try to promote an interconnected world!

-- Michael
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