Google Buys Gizmo5 to Bolster VoIP Offerings

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Internet giant Google has announced it has acquired San Diego-based VoIP startup Gizmo5 for an undisclosed amount. Google says it plans to integrated Gizmo5 into its Google Voice team to beef up Google Voice’s VoIP offerings…and help make Google Voice a more serious competitor to Skype.

In unveiling the acquisition, Google Voice product managers Wesley Chan and Craig Walker did not reveal any specific features or capabilities they plan to pick up from Gizmo5, but from a technical perspective the acquisition seemed aimed at converting Google Voice into a fully-fledged VoIP service. Right now Google Voice acts as a central hub for its users’ multiple phone numbers, enabling them to be reached via a single number and take advantage of features like voicemail and speech-to-text message transcription. In addition, Google offers Google Talk, which enables users to make computer-to-computer voice and video calls. The addition of technology from Gizmo5 could convert either (or both services) into a genuine VoIP offering that connects to traditional landline and wireless numbers.

Existing Gizmo5 users will be able to continue using their service, although the companies are no longer accepting new signups for Gizmo5, and existing users won’t be able to sign up for a call-in number anymore.

Google will have to be careful, however: Google Voice is already being examined by the FCC for blocking calls to certain rural areas.