As my interest is primarily in video chat / IM programs, I generally don't pay much attention to announcements of products without video. However, the announcement for "Nimbuzz" caught my eye, and sounded rather interesting, so I've downloaded it to my PC and my Nokia 6234, and given it a try.
In a nutshell, Nimbuzz is an audio and text IM program, with file and picture transfer capability, which claims to unify your contacts from a variety of "Communities" in a single place. It currently supports import of contacts from:
- Google Talk
This seems very similar to the Gizmo Project, with a few more communities added, a few less features (for example SMS and email delivery of messages), and a lot less refined and polished.
The thing that caught my eye about it was that Skype was included in the communities it supported. I would really like to find a client that would allow me to chat with the few Skype contacts I have left, without having to load the buggy Skype program itself. So I downloaded and installed the PC version... and discovered that Skype wasn't in the community registration list. Hmmm. A little checking of the help and forums, and I found that the PC version doesn't include Skype support, only the mobile version does. This actually seems to be typical of Nibuzz, the mobile version seems much more complete and robust than the PC version.
Next I downloaded and installed the mobile version in my Nokia 6234 cell phone. Again, it seemed very similar to Gizmo5. Everything went smoothly, and this time I was able to add my Skype login info. Then the fun started - type Skype garbage. Nimbuzz said that my Skype contacts would appear in my contact list "in a few seconds", but after several minutes, they still didn't show up. They eventually did come up, after quite a long time, but I have no idea whether it was Nimbuzz that was being slow, of if it was the typical Skype contact update slowness. I sent a text message to one of my Skype contacts, and got a reply back - hooray! at least that works! Of course, through all of this the Skype that I had running on my test laptop here was showing that contact as being offline, but I am well used to Skype presence being so unreliable as to be useless. Next I added my MSN Live id, and the contacts from there came over almost immediately, as they should.
Although the mobile version of Nimbuzz seems significantly better than the PC version, it is important to remember that it will use the data connection on your handset, and if you don't have a fixed-cost data contract, that can add up fast. I am likely to be using it, at least for a while, to stay in touch with my Skype contacts (I'll try pretty much anything to avoid running Skype). There are a couple of more important things that I have to find out about it yet:
- it is also capable of making voice calls from the mobile handset. I believe that those calls also go over the data channel, but I want to be sure about that. Nimbuzz says that you can call any of your contacts for the price of a local call - hmmm, does that really mean a local voice call, so it is going over a voice connection, or do they really mean a local data connection?
- what is the overall data use of Nimbuzz for orindary start up and monitoring text chat activity? I know that Gizmo has put a lot of effort into minimizing data traffic, specifically so that it doesn't get too expensive for users who don't have a fixed price data contract. Nimbuzz says in several places that they recommend such a contract, does this imply that their typical data use is much higher?
In summary, Nimbuzz looks like an interesting addition to the field, but I think they have a long way to go before I would consider using it instead of Gizmo5. The only clear advantage that I see is having access to more communities, and I know that the people at Gizmo are working hard to add more all the time as well.