Google Voice Fans Start Petition for a Desktop Client

 
 
By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-07-04
 
 
 

Google just made free phone management application Google Voice available to the general public June 22

While that release is a Web-based program that lets users route calls to home, work and mobile phones through a special number provided by Google, TechCrunch has tantalized users for months with the idea that the company is building a desktop client of the software.

Google in November 2009 acquired Gizmo5, maker of a VOIP (voice over IP) application that let users make phone calls over the Web.

Gizmo5, which Google used to enable users to connect calls from desktop to desktop and desktop to phone, is an alternative to the popular Skype VOIP service, which boasts almost 500 million users.

In an interview with eWEEK about the broad availability of Google Voice, Google Voice Product Manager Vincent Paquet declined to say how Google was using the Gizmo5 assets it acquired.

"We designed Google Voice to be endpoint-agnostic and we certainly want it to be accessible from any type of endpoint, not just phones," Paquet told eWEEK June 21. "The direction in which we are going to keep working is to use the Web, which is probably the best UI [user interface] there is in the world, to give you more control and personalization over your communications."

However, TechCrunch became convinced months ago that Google was using the Gizmo5 assets to build a desktop client version for Google Voice, which also features voice mail transcription and several other features that involve a Web browser.

Indeed, the blog even has a demo of the Google Voice desktop client here to prove it exists.

TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington reported that this plan was bogged down by the fact that Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin did not want their company creating desktop-based software, which they consider a relic of the Microsoft's days of dominance.

Why then Page and Brin would allow Google to buy Gizmo5 and start such a desktop project in the first place is an unsolved mystery.

In any case, a grassroots petition has started, discovered by Fortune. People who desire a desktop VOIP client for Google Voice may sign the petition at giveusgvdesktop.com.

The petition, launched July 2, appears poorly timed given the Independence Day holiday in the United States. The movement aims to collect 500,000 signatures; only 509 had signed up through early July 4.

Meanwhile, Google Voice users who want to see certain features that aren't in the application may make choose to make suggestions in comments after this story here. eWEEK is passing them along to Paquet at Google.

Rocket Fuel