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Making phone calls from a computer should be as easy as typing a URL, and with the release of - a new service from SIPphone - it is. Typing is all it takes. And it's not just easy, but free. You can get 10 minutes of free calling per day to call just about any phone number in the world (sorry Antarctica). Before Gizmo Call, you had to download a big program, install it, register for an account and buy calling minutes. With Gizmo Call, you just install a Flash plug-in into your web browser and begin talking.

With Gizmo Call, people can call a wide range of numbers and devices, but there's a more clandestine strategy at work. Gizmo Call lets you dial numbers for almost any country - even mobile phones - by typing them into the number field at or simply typing a URL into a browser. This will take you to the web site and load the flash plugin (if you don't have it), and you're ready to talk. It's the easiest way to initiate a call. Talking for 10 minutes per day is free to registered users with unregistered users getting 5 minutes per day. Longer calls require the purchase of Call Out minutes which provides a low cost way to do calling. There are many calls you can make with no per minute charge whatsoever: Gizmo Project users, GoogleTalk, Windows Live, enum numbers, GUPS or any SIP number. You can also use to call WiFi devices like the Nokia n80ie and n800. International users now even have access to previously blocked US 800/888 numbers with no per minute charge. We do charge $4 for custom CallerID which you can set so that Gizmo calls will look like they are coming from your mobile or office phone.

Now, it might seem like a small development to have a calling system which uses a web browser, but it's significant because it makes it much easier for anyone to use. Let me give you an illustration. In 2002, my former company launched Our artist publishing engine let musicians from around the world sign-up for free and publish their music. This pioneering user generated content technology helped create the world's largest digital music company. So it seemed natural to extend this strategy to video and that's what we did with a domain I registered, only it didn't work out. There weren't loads of videos on the net at the time. More problematic was that to play any of the videos required a software download. We did our best to offer all the common formats (quicktime, windows media, real, mp4), but it was just too complicated for people to have to do a software download.

A few years later YouTube sprung onto the scene and became an overnight sensation with the same strategy, but there were two big differences. The first was YouTube published obviously unauthorized music videos, clips from major movies and tv shows and sports highlights. Back at we previewed every piece of content before publishing it and rejected any piece containing even a few seconds of commercial material unless we were provided written authorization. The other major difference was YouTube used Flash to play the videos. Adobe added video support to Flash in 2002 and by the time YouTube launched just about everyone had this newer version. This meant that videos just started playing with no issues with video formats or media players and a consumer wave was born. Gizmo Call can do for VOIP, what YouTube did for video create a consumer wave by making anyone with a browser able to play.

My plan with Gizmo Call is to offer phone calls that will feel free because they are paid for with advertising. The popularity of free email services, news services and community sites demonstrates that people will often choose ad sponsored services over paid ones. Because Gizmo Call is written in flash we can insert advertisements into the experience in a helpful manner. If you call 1-800-FLOWERS we can tell you about the great San Diego-based company ProFlowers which is running Valentine's Day specials starting at $29.95 and offer to connect you to them at: 1-800-580-2913. If you need a plumber or a pizza just dial those words and we'll pop up a list of vendors you can talk to for those services. Not everyone will want advertising in and around their calls, but Google has proved that targeted advertising is actually useful and that's what we will strive for.

There's no advertising yet on Gizmo Call which is why free calls are limited to just 10 minutes. Eventually we'll have text, audio and video advertising - let your mind run with that one! Until then, use Gizmo Call to make some free calls and let me know how it works for you!

-- MR

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