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Google VoIP App Draws Petition

Users of Google Voice call for the release of a voice-over-IP desktop client for Mac, Windows, and Linux PCs.
Thousands of Google Voice users have signed an online petition asking the search engine to release a desktop application that would enable them to make telephone calls over the Internet.

The petition, posted over the July 4th holiday weekend, was started after the blog TechCrunch reported that the company was testing a voice-over-IP desktop app internally. The site, however, reported that Google may scrap the project because founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin want all applications from the company to work from inside a browser.

The petitioners are asking Google to release the desktop app while deciding whether to pursue browser-based applications. "This petition is brought forth to show you the overwhelming demand for such an application for (Mac) OS X, Windows, and Linux PCs, and possibly an Android app," the document says.

Google was not immediately available for comment.

As of Tuesday morning, the petition had almost 2,600 signatures. Speculation that Google could develop a VoIP app similar to the popular Skype service started in November 2009 when Google acquired Gizmo5. The company announced the purchase of the Internet-based calling service the same day Google agreed to buy mobile advertising network AdMob for $750 million.

Gizmo5 made software that offered Internet telephony on a computer or mobile phone. However, Google has never said why it bought the company.

In fact, the month before the announcement, Google told the Federal Communications Commission that Google Voice should not be subject to the same rules as traditional telephone companies because, among other reasons, the service is not a VoIP service under FCC rules. If Google was to launch a VoIP service, than its argument to the FCC may be weakened.

Google Voice today primarily offers call forwarding, voicemail, and a voicemail-to-e-mail transcription service. The service, which is available at no charge, was made generally available last month and has more than a million active users.

In acquiring Gizmo5, Google suspended new signups for the service and said existing users would no longer be able to sign up for a call-in number.

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