With very little fanfare, Google - wearing its Google Voice hat - this week acquired Gizmo5, which it defined as a "company that provides Internet-based calling software for mobile phones and computers."
You know where this is going, right? With the technology of Gizmo5 - which was very much a Skype rival - Google has bought itself some technology that would allow Google Voice to become a softphone service, meaning it could place and receive calls using a Google Voice number. Currently, Google Voice is dependent on mobile or landline phones to place or receive calls.
That's the obvious use of Gizmo5 - but Google isn't saying that that's what it has plans to do. In fact, Google is saying much of anything. A post on the Google Voice blog essentially puts the company on record as having made the acquisition but doesn't reveal much more. The company writes:
While we don't have any specific features to announce right now, Gizmo5's engineers will be joining the Google Voice team to continue improving the Google Voice and Gizmo5 experience. 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.
The obvious integration is Google Voice - but where? Google already has an IM chat service, called GoogleTalk, built into GMail and that's already empowering users to make video or voice calls. Surely, that service would be better with the ability to place and receive "phone calls" directly from the Gmail interface. And, with GMail gaining a bigger presence in both mobile settings and corporate settings - via the Go Google campaigns - there are some pretty cool "potentials" that could be explored.
I'm trying to think bigger than Gmail, though. Personally, I like what Google Wave is shaping up to be - a one-stop shop for collaborative communications. At some point, when Wave becomes a virtual meeting center, it will need the integration of voice services. Using Gizmo5 and Google Voice, I'm sure the engineers behind Wave will find a way to do that.
For now, though, we can only imagine.