Google marches further into comms business with Gizmo5 deal

13 Nov 2009

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Just days after internet search and advertising giant Google acquired AdMob for US$750 million, it has emerged that the company is strengthening its Google Voice stable with the further acquisition of voice-over internet company Gizmo5.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed in what has been a heady week for Google, which made its third-largest acquisition to date with AdMob earlier in the week.

Gizmo5 is a VoIP client that allows users to make phone calls over the internet.

The difference is Gizmo5 is based on the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), which is going to be the social glue that will drive unified communications.

Device-friendly

The idea of SIP is that whatever device you are using – your laptop, your mobile phone, a desk phone, a video conference or just bog-standard instant messaging – you can be reached. Via your presence in their address book, friends and colleagues can see what device you are currently available on.

The magic spot where Google can go with this acquisition is the whole "where are you now" and "what are you doing" ethos of social-networking stars today, like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.

By coming "presence" via SIP with Google Voice and other mobile assets, such as Android or its free sat nav tool for Android devices, advertising systems like AdMob and eventual segments like augmented reality, Google is firmly positioning itself as a driving force in the future of communications and powerful handsets.

Eye on improvement

“While we don’t have any specific features to announce right now, Gizmo5’s engineers will be joining the Google Voice team to continue to improve the Google Voice and Gizmo5 experience,” said Wesley Chan, product manager, in the official Google Voice Blog.

“Current Gizmo5 users will still be able to use the service, though we will be suspending new signups for the time being, and existing users will no longer be able to sign up for a call-in number.

“We’ve acquired a number of small companies over the past five years, and the people and technology that have come to Google from other places have contributed in many ways, large and small, to all kinds of Google products.

“Since the GrandCentral team joined Google in 2007, they’ve done incredible things with Google’s technology and resources to launch and improve Google Voice,” said Chan.

By John Kennedy

Photo: The Gizmo5.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com