Gizmo: at last, a solid competitor to Skype

I’ve been playing around with Gizmo the past couple of days. Gizmo is a free, P2P internet telephony product that is very similiar in many ways to the extremely popular Skype. However, unlike Skype, it is based on SIP, an open-standard for making internet phone calls, which means that Gizmo can make and receive calls from other internet phone networks. Which is a pretty big deal.

Gizmo’s not the first SIP client out there, but it’s extremely well designed, and appears to have little difficulty traversing firewalls and NAT routers, which is often a challenge for SIP-based products.

Like Skype, Gizmo offers end-to-end call encryption, the option to add cheap inbound and outbound calls to landlines, and has great sound quality.

Major plus over Skype: built-in call recording. This will be incredibly useful for podcasters and others who want to record high-quality interviews online.

Major downside compared to Skype: no built-in instant messaging. That’s a bummer, but I suspect it will be addressed soon, as folks are clamoring for it in the forums.

It’s nice to a see a credible competitor to Skype enter the market. Hopefully it will spur another round of rapid innovation.

VoIP and the Spirit of Adventure

David Strom reminds us that adopting VoIP — like any complex, mission-critical, leading edge technology — can land you in tech support hell every once in a while. (Turns out that he needed a DOCSIS 2.0-compliant cable modem instead of his older DOCSIS 1.0-compliant model.)

My take-home from this isn’t “avoid VoIP.” Instead, this article is a reminder that we always need to approach the prospect of adopting big exciting new technologies with a “spirit of adventure.”

The New York Model

The New York Model covers some of the interesting ways that RNC protest organizers used SMS (text messaging), VoIP-powered automated telephone information lines, and other leading-edge network technology to power their “counter-convention” efforts, and the independent media coverage of it.

Fun stuff, although I’m still trying to figure out how it’s relevant to campaigns that are playing out over longer periods of time in less intense circumstances.