Saturday, July 02, 2005

Gizmo - Alpha Beta 

Basically I am getting too old being an alpha-tester according to Tom Evslin's "Decoding Programmers Speak":

“It’s Beta ready.”
Translation: It’s Alpha ready.”

When I downloaded and installed it on Thursday, I could not even register. It said invalid whatever, every time I tried richard.stastny, richard, stastny or f*ck off. So I gave up. BTW, it would have been helpful to get a notice that you could also register with your old sipphone account. I detected this later. The behaviour on this day must have been somewhat erratic, because a collegue of mine had the same problem, but in his case ALL his tries succeeded despite of the error messages, so he has now 4 accounts, as he detected after receiving the ack e-mails. BTW, I never received any welcome e-mail, despite of being registered now as stastny. (One also gets a Sipphone Boing 747 number again in the background, which you also only find out looking up your own profile)

So I gave it a last try yesterday and first thing it did was downloading an update. Aha - and I could register ;-)

My first impression: a Skype clone - which is basically not a bad idea. If you clone something, take the best product. So it makes sense.

It also uses the ILBC codec, again not a bad idea, so one can expect a good sound quality.

But to clone something, it takes more: e.g. usability.

Since I had no buddies yet to call on Gizmo, and since you get 0,25 cents for out calls, I tried to call some numbers. I entered some numbers in the well known international format, also called E.164, e.g. +43xxxx.

Result: a nice announcement: "The number you have dialed is crash". Of course she did not say "crash", it just sounded like this.

Then I tried to call some sip URIs, e.g. on fwd and sipgate, same effect.

After thinking a bit about this, and since I know from earlier discussions whith Michael that he has the same understanding on numbering I have on baseball, I tried 01143xxx and voila, it worked.

Having this worked out, I also found that you may call another SIP user with entering the sip URI with and not without. Entering such an acoount into the Buddy List does not work, it is not accepted.

I was even able to reach my sipphone account from FWD, still remebering that the URI to call sipphone is, which also nobody tells you (or the siphone number). Note on the side: It is urgently needed that presence finally works between such domains.

One major drawback from my point of view: Gizmo is not ENUM-enabled.

Another issue I do not like is that voice-mail only works SER style by sending you the voice-mail in an e-mail attachment. I got used to the Skype-style in just clicking a botton in the call list.

InCalls use the combined FWD and Sipphone gateway e.g. at Washington 1 202 742 5739, which is not very user-friendly, because it is two-stage dialing. And it worked only with my FWD account, but not with Gizmo, because of a "codec mismatch". Gateway not understanding ILBC yet, or what? ;-)

There are of course other comments on Gizmo, the general impression is that most welcome the idea to have finally a non-propriatory SIP product similar to Skype, but that is is still very Beta.

It is really very Beta, my rant at the beginning is cause by the fact that I had to stop testing because the application stopped working. This is not quite true, it is hiding (lurking?). If you log in, it is showing up in the task bar as running, but you cannot see it. It is still running and working, it even rings, but it does not show up on the desktop. I re-booted Windows, but still the same. Maybe I have to re-install it, but here I will wait on the next version.

Andy and Phoneboy are quite positive and are awaiting additional clients:

Of course, if they want to go head-to-head with Skype, they're going to have to
get clients out there for Linux, Pocket PC, and Symbian. God, I wish I could
find a free SIP client for my Nokia 9500...

Stuart from the Skype Journal is raising some good and valid questions, the same I have:
  • What would be the compelling reason to switch? From Skype to Gizmo?
  • How and what opportunities does this provide for PBX integration; something many Skypers want?
  • Is the fragmentation of the VON VoIP market only going to affect other SIP players and have no impact on Skype?
  • Why aren't the "rates" for CallOut or CallIn competitive?
The last point is very important: Skype is already very sticky, and if one really wants to use Skype for outcalls (e.g. from a plane ;-), he will still use Skype and not Gizmo. And how many VoIP clients does a normal person have on his laptop or Softphone?

David is first blaming Niklas for being assymetric (BTW - this is quite a usual behaviour from all alternative providers (TDM and IP) - basically being in contact with the voice business turns you in a bellhead sooner than later).

At a recent conference, a Skype founder suggested "regulating the incumbents" to force others to carry Skype calls. Skype calls go over the public Internet, but are often carried on telephone company wiring (DSL) which Skype is worried could be configured to block their calls. They are proposing that the government should step in and demand that those telephone company networks carry Skype calls.

Meanwhile, Skype is refusing to carry anyone else's calls on their own phone system. They are engaging in exact behavior - they are worried about others trying. Skype can't have it both ways. If Skype wants to lock others out of their system, shouldn't the telephone companies have the same right also? really stresses the open standard and interoperability aspects of
Gizmo and for my part, I couldn't agree more.

He really likes the app on the Mac (ok, I missed this one) and then he is missing the find button - this is not true - you just have to use "search" - or they forgot this on the Mac.

He continues: So in fact, Gizmo interoperates with any service, PBX, or network using SIP, i.e. every service out there except Skype.

One solution may be that Gizmo is also using the Skype API like the Pulver Communicator.

The other possibility is that SIP applications like Gizmo will finally overtake Skype, but this will not be easy.

Skype has shown that normal customes do not want to configure the client and attach it to a provider, they want to have a bundled product.

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