Google has once again made waves as it announced the acquisition of a Gizmo5, a small company which makes the software that lets users make voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone calls from their computers and mobile phones, not unlike Skype.
Funny… Last month Skype was in talks to acquire Gizmo5. It was a perfect backup plan in case all that IP litigation didn’t work out, as Gizmo5’s SIP infrastructure could theoretically replace Skype’s proprietary P2P back end.
In the meantime, Google snatched up the company, for a reported $30 million in cash.
So what does this mean? In theory, it means that Google can now offer a complete, end-to-end phone service, with which consumers can make and receive calls between the Googlephone and other phones or computers. Anywhere in the world. At no cost.
Google Voice, Google’s high-tech phone service, already gives US users a free phone number and allows unlimited free calls to any phone in the country – land-line or mobile. And international calls cost as little as 15 US cents a minute.
Google Voice already uses sophisticated voice recognition to turn voicemails into e-mails, can block telemarketing calls automatically and offers free text messaging. Combine this with a Googlephone…and surely domination of all earthly communication is bound to follow?
Most importantly, for the first time, a single company will control everything from the software in users’ phones to the services they use to make calls and surf the Internet. A Google-branded handset and a comprehensive Google phone service with unlimited free calls is sure to rattle other big players in the industry.
It’s bound to get messy, and the mobile phone networks aren’t the only enemies Google risks making. Phone makers such as Samsung, Motorola and Sony Ericsson now using the Android operating system might not take kindly to Google keeping the most up-to-date version of its software for itself.
“We’ve never had this situation, where a single vendor controls the entire stack, from the operating system right up to Google’s cloud services,” says Ashok Kumar, an analyst at Northeast Securities, a US-based financial services firm.”It changes the competitive and bargaining dynamics like never before.” Google has so far declined to comment on its plans, so we shall have to wait and see.
But the question everyone is asking is this: how will they monetise this power? I have a few ideas of my own. What do you say?Tweet