How Gizmo5 is both good and bad for Google
Gizmo5 lets Google act like a phone company. But now it might need to, well, act like a phone company.
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Hungry Google has marched down the tech sector buffet line, ladling several delicious services onto its plate. The $750 million AdMob deal will extend the giant's reach into mobile-phone advertising. ReCAPTCHA will aid security and its digital book project. On2 could help video encoding.
But Gizmo5 seems most like a boon for us users. The online calling service – very similar to Skype – lets people ditch phone companies and make calls through the Internet.
Google plans to roll the service into Google Voice, which is currently a suite of added phone functions. Users can have incoming calls ring multiple phones at the same time – e.g. home, office, and cellphone. Google Voice will also transcribe voicemails and then email or text the messages to you. However, these services require that you have an existing phone line.
No longer, thanks to Gizmo5. Now that Google can tie the two together, it starts to look like a full-fledged phone company – one with fun features that AT&T and Verizon don't offer. When the two truly merge, maybe it will be time to rethink your home phone bill.
But the conversion also raises problems for Google. Already under increased scrutiny from federal regulators, Google is now pushing itself into a "different class of regulatory oversight from agencies like the FCC," writes PCWorld. "In response to an AT&T complaint to the FCC regarding Google blocking some calls on Google Voice, Google countered by stating that it does not actually provide the calling backbone so it should not be subject to those same communications rules. That is about to change.... With Gizmo5, Google may now find itself on both sides of the net neutrality debate--both wanting an unrestricted public Internet and looking for ways to manage and restrict traffic for the services it provides."
Excited by Gizmo5? Well, it seems newcomers will need to wait to try it out. Google reports that the service has closed its doors to new users while it merges the two technologies.
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