Gizmo Project Game Changer? Or still not one-click?

Key to staying on top of developments in Internet-centric communications means not just reading about something…but leaping in and actually using the products and services. It’s one reason why I invest an inordinate amount of time in Web 2.0 betas, currently shipping offerings as well as installing and using lots of different communication technologies and open source software.

In May of last year I posted about putting Gizmo, Skype and Vonage through my own, personal usability testing and quality of service (QoS) subjective use. Vonage won for having a rock-solid, land-line-like system and Skype because of the sheer ecosystem surrounding it as well as the critical mass of users. Gizmo, though using my preferred open protocol SIP, lost.

Reading Om Malik’s post this morning about Gizmo Project’s new Flash-centric call product launched this afternoon, I decided to put Gizmo through its paces again. As before, several Gizmo features didn’t work like recording a voicemail,  setting up a conference room, calling to the “Record” or “Conference” numbers (they just disconnected) and other weird behaviors. I absolutely *love* the Gizmo Project software and, especially, it’s built-in call recording feature for podcasting and other uses. I’m not sure it’s enough to get me to use it much…but I’m going to keep trying.

But I am *very* impressed with Gizmo Project’s new Flash-based product! Could this be the game changer to get people to use it vs. Skype?

It’s probably not enough though pretty cool. Yes, you have to download a plug-in and a headset is a good thing, but *anyone* who has used Skype or other VoIP solutions has already done so.

As a solution, it still requires a bit of geekiness to get it to work. Futzing with a headset and internal audio settings is one requirement and — should you want to use the feature to “Create a Call Me Link” cutting-n-pasting a GIF link that someone can click on to call you — works fairly well but let’s look at how a novice user might use such a feature:

a) Some random user clicks on the GIF “Call Me” button on my blog

b) If they have the Gizmo Flash plug-in installed great…if not an install is required

c) After all that they have to go BACK to my blog and click on the GIF again to launch the Web browser-based call

d) Hope that I’m available to answer it (I’d say it would roll to Gizmo’s free voicemail…unlike Skype’s pay-for version…but I’ve yet to get Gizmo’s to work!).

Is this enough to be a game changer? I don’t think so.

Voice is the killer app for participation on the Internet. Voice is SO MUCH FASTER and information dense that it accelerates communications. Yes…it’s synchronous (all parties have to be present and it’s real-time) and asynchronous communications is huge, but being able to connect and talk is critical.

Services like ConnectMeAnywhere, Fring, Hullo, TruPhone and one that is super-simple and uses regular phones, Jajah, still require some level of geekiness, but are getting closer to providing one-click connections.

What’s required is a one-click calling capability. Most people that are using Skype or Gizmo Project have also learned one personal protocol that’s needed with *any* Internet-telephony: use the IM feature to ping me first and find out if I’m available for a call. I love that people are doing that and I’m not sure publishing my number for someone to click on (or publishing publicly my Gizmo Project username (all someone has to do is peek at the code behind the graphic to find it) is a good thing. Skype allows ones status to be public or private and doesn’t show.

I do like what’s implemented on my blog right now with a 3rd party widget. It shows my Skype status but does NOT allow someone I don’t know to randomly call me. People can, however, click the widget and it launches their own Skype application and an IM chat so they can type in something like, “Hi this is _________. Do you have time to chat for a few minutes about your post today?” It lets me decide if now is a good time to talk vs. just having Skype suddenly ring which I find jarring.

I’m really goofin’ on the innovation that is rocketing on to the scene in Internet telephony and this Gizmo Project launch — with all its warts and flaws — just adds to my excitement.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.