Quite a buzz is being generated around the launch, a few days ago, of Project Gizmo, a VoIP solution that closely resembles Skype. I downloaded the software, which, incidentally, is available for the Mac, PC and soon Linux. This morning I had the chance to test it with a friend. The voice quality was as good as Skype (Gizmo uses the technology from Global IP Sound, just like Skype). One nice touch in the software is its ability to record calls.
Gizmo also has CallIn and CallOut features (as in SypeIn and SkypeOut), enabling you to receive phone calls on a ‘normal’ US or UK number (CallIn) and make cheap calls to normal phones worldwide (CallOut). Gizmo even gives you 25 cent worth of call to try it out.
I was thrilled to see Gizmo offering the CallOut service as this was one of the things I liked about Skype, until, of course Skype stopped accepting my MasterCard (web surfer card actually). I was very disappointed when Gizmo’s store also refused my card!
Anyway. The main differentiator for Project Gizmo (which, by the way, is only a temporary name for the product/service) is that it will be based on an the open SIP VoIP standard. This allows anyone using this standard to interconnect with anyone using the same standard. This is contrary to Skype, whose network is closed.
But according to a discussion I recently followed on the influential Gillmor Gang technology podcast, Skype is expected to open up its system before the end of 2005. This view sees Skype already becoming an enabling platform for totally new kinds of collaboration and not just a telephony service.
Skype, of course, has created a huge brand following. Its name already has been transferred to a verb (Skype me tomorrow) and its user base is in the tens of millions. It would be really annoying to convince all my friends to switch to Gizmo, after I managed to get them all on Skype!
One last point here: technology pundit Om Malik writes in his blog that, so far, 30% of the downloads of Gizmo have been by Mac users. Given that Mac users are less than 5% of the world’s computer population, this proves that Mac users are early adopters of new technologies and can, thus, help companies create a buzz around their new products. Interesting, ha? I guess I am the living proof of that theory.