Back in November 2009 Google acquired Gizmo5, a powerful VoIP telephony service that allows users to place and receive calls from their computer and mobile phone applications. Today, the company has started informing users that it will be shutting down Gizmo5 service on April 3, 2011.
Since acquiring the startup, Google has integrated Gizmo5 technology into Gmail/Gtalk, which has allowed users to make phone calls directly from their Gmail inbox since August of last year. It's a great feature - particularly if you're using Google Voice - but it can't do everything Gizmo5 can. For example, using a supported SIP application, Gizmo5 allows users to make/receive phone calls using their Wifi connections on their mobile phones. Google Voice still has yet to enable Wifi calls.
Gizmo5 also offers more flexibility in terms of hardware setups. It hooks into SMB PBX systems, allowing businesses to tap into the service, and it also supports analog telephone adapters - you can hook a landline phone into the Gizmo5′s VoIP network using the appropriate adapter.
And Gizmo5 offers desktop applications that users can leave open 24/7 without having to worry about keeping a browser tab open to receive calls. Google was also working on a desktop client for Google Voice based on Gizmo5 technology, but that project has been scrapped in favor of the Gmail/Google Talk browser plugin.
Here's one of the emails that Google is sending to users:
Gizmo5 is writing to let you know that we will no longer be providing service starting on April 3, 2011. A week from today, March 11, 2011, you will no longer be able to add credit to your account.
Although the standalone Gizmo5 client will no longer be available, we have since launched the ability to call phones from within Gmail at even more affordable rates.
If you purchased calling credit and have a balance remaining in your account, you can request a refund by logging in to http://my.gizmo5.com. If you are in the United States, you can instead choose to transfer your credit to a Google Voice account, so it can be used for calling from Google Voice or Gmail. If you don't have a Google Voice account, please create one so that we can transfer your credit.
Please request a call credit transfer or refund by April 3, 2011. If you don't request a call credit transfer or refund by this date, we will automatically refund your remaining call credit via the payment method you originally used to purchase the credit. Note that if you paid via Moneybookers or if the credit card on file has expired, we will not be able to automatically refund your unused credit, so please log in to initiate the refund process.
The Gizmo5 Team