Making the right call
Google says it has snapped up Internet phone startup, Gizmo5, for an undisclosed amount of money and plans to integrate it with Google Voice at some point in the near future.
Google Voice product managers Wesley Chan and Craig Walker announced the acquisition on a company blog, saying that whilst we there weren't "any specific features to announce right now, Gizmo5's engineers will be joining the Google Voice team to continue improving the Google Voice and Gizmo5 experience."
Google says that current Gizmo5 users will still be able to use the service, but that new signups would be suspended "for the time being, and existing users will no longer be able to sign up for a call-in number."
It's thought that the San Diego-based VoIP provider could help Google achieve the Full Monty when it comes to Internet telephony, even being able to compete with Skype.
Google already has two VoIP-like services, Google Talk and Google Voice, with the former allowing users to make video or voice calls computer to computer, while the latter offers users a Google generated phone number through which multiple other phone numbers can be routed and which includes features like voice-mail transcription and the blocking of unwanted calls.
A new "lite" version of the software lets people use their existing phone number, but doesn't allow certain features of the full version, like sending SMS messages via email. Either way, for users to have Google Voice, they need to have at least one existing mobile or landline number, meaning it is not purely VoIP.
Google is also having to navigate some potentially thorny legal issues with Google Voice, after AT&T complained to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that the service restricted calls in certain high charge rural areas, making it selective and therefore unacceptable.
AT&T wants Google to be subject to the same government regulations as other telecoms, something Google has argued vehemently against, stating that Voice is just a software application and that it only blocks numbers like sex lines which engage in "traffic pumping."
Delegates from Google's Voice team are in Washington this week to present their arguments and explain the technology behind Voice directly to FCC representatives.