Did You Ever Think About Skype Alternatives?
Skype rules the roost in the world of VoIP and has millions of users but does it mean that you have to follow the leader? Certainly not, there are other alternatives available in the market which are quite promising. Given below is a list of alternatives which I found out at Netkraker:
1 - The Gizmo Project
Often called the "Skype-killer" application, launched by Michael Robertson, the found of MP3.com and Linspire, a Linux distributor. With such a pedigree, the Gizmo project couldn't have been anything else than an open source project. Now, its features: free PC to-PC phone calls, interoperability with other SIP softwares such as the Google Talk or Jabbin. Add to this, the Gizmo CallOut service that provides call to landlines phone users for under 20 cents - down to 1 cent for US residents. Gizmo also provides a facility to allow users to receive calls on a traditional phone number from mobile phones and landlines. The Gizmo CallIn service, which costs $5 per month, supplies a phone number from one of over 50 cities in the US and UK. The GizPro seems to spread at a very fast pace and earned some $6 million funding for further development. Download it here.
2 - Google Talk
Minimalistic look-and-feel as usual, very small size file to download, this application leads to the same basic instant messaging functionalities as the others. As the Gizmo Project, its main advantage is to rely on the SIP protocol for voice chat and the XMPP for direct connection between users. The last protocol means a GTalk users could get along with people on Jabber-compatible clients like Trillian, Gaim, Adium X or iChat ???‚¬??? the last two are for Apple aficionados. Google recently bundles its Gmail with its VoIP client which makes it even more easy to start phone calls. To use Google Talk, you can download it here or create an account on Gmail.
3 - Wengo
A French VoIP sister company of Neuf Telecom, one of the four French national telcos. Only Skype-like features. But calling on landlines and mobiles is cheaper than with Skype. In mid-January 2006, the company freed its main software source code. The project was naturally name OpenWengo ???‚¬??? the company claimed they did initially develop under Linux environment but for some reasons, the Windows version came out first. So far, the project is on its last beta version before its major release. OpenWengo also gave birth to one nice sister project: the Firefox add-on, that permits voice conversation without downloading the software. You can grab the extension here or go for the full version software here.
4 - Gtalkr
A pure Web 2.0 player. Flash and XML anywhere and no need to download any piece of software. The first stable version isn't supposed to appear very soon. Gtalkr indeed provides free PC-to-PC conversations. Besides this, it'll come with its "media messaging": browsing and reading news feeds, Flickr images, YouTube video explorer. Google users just need to enter their ID to start using their phone service as Gtalkr explicit name already reveals. You can try it here.
5 - Jabbin
Consider it as the voice client for Jabber, sharing its common sense and providing simple but effective functionalities and providing extensive interoperability with almost every other VoIP client. The still young Jabbin rapidly grows from a Spanish developers brainchild into an European community project. And yet, the first Jabbin major release and its Windows, Apple and Linux declination are available. You can't miss this one.
6, 7 - Gaim, Mabber
Those two applications come from the purest open source tradition. Simple, no fancy but very effective functionalities. Gaim has been fostering instant messaging softwares on Linux environment for more than five years. The user and developer communities remain active. The version 2.0, currently in beta, promises to include VoIP and video. On the other hand, Mabber, driven by skillful German contributors to the Jabber platform, frees SMS messaging on dual-mode mobiles - although it requires some Java enabled. Users need to get registered prior to fully use the software. One more thing before you start playing with Mabber, Nik Cubrilovic from TechCrunch.com already adopted it. Gaim is available here and Mabber here.
8 - Jajah
The California-based start-up has made a lot of buzz when they launched their web-based VoIP application in January. Comics-like site design, fancy colors, clear layout for rapid handover of the standard functionalities. You should have a nice user experience with Jajah. But bear in mind this: The company might listen to your conversation or record your private data to sell them to third-parties companies. ExtremeTech thinks Jajah isn't a spyware but close. Meanwhile, Yair goldfinger, the ICQ instant messaging father, has joined the board of directors to spark the company development. Jajah may come with nice surprises in the next few months. Go here if you want to give it a try.
9 - SightSpeed
This is by far the most appropriate tool in our list for video conference calls. SightSpeed has been in this business since the early stages of voice over the Internet communications. The current version 4.5 enables video recording as well as up to five people conference calls without time lagging. The proprietary technology is based on peer-to-peer connection, only transmits moving pixels while keeping still the other ones. Conversations could hence remain very smooth. Besides the headset and the webcam, no special equipment is required. Read more on SightSpeed or go download it here.
10 - PeopleCall
This last one is for our Spanish mother-tongue readers. Roughly said, PeopleCall provides the same service and functionalities than the rest of the list. Free PC-to-PC phone calls, slimmer file to download (3.8 MB compared to Skype 9.5 MB installation application), conversation recording in WAV format, and customizable ringtones. PeopleCall also offers paid services that allow text messages sending to mobile phones and adapters for calling from a conventional or WiFi phone. Currently, they're doing heavy marketing campaign in Spain.