The Truth About Nokia VoIP

Ah, it was supposed to be the day to recover from the throbbing pain in my head, lying around and generally doing nothing. For some odd reason, I powered up my Macbook Pro, and discovered this Nokia Gizmo Project meme.

The not-exactly accurate nature of all the talk, much like iSkoot (not Skype) on Symbian phones is what prompted me to give up the lazy Monday.

There is a lot of talk about Nokia putting my favorite, The Gizmo Project, on their WiFi-enabled mobile phones. Unfortunately, it is a gross exaggeration.

The Gizmo Project, a VoIP service from Michael Robertson’s SIPphone, currently works on one Nokia phone – the Nokia N80ie. (ie=Internet Edition.) That’s it – one phone that costs a whopping $499, and is currently not sold by any U.S. carrier. You have to buy it directly from Nokia.

The only other device manufactured by Nokia that supports Gizmo Project is the Nokia 770 Tablet. I admit, the service works flawlessly on both devices. I often use it to call India to save on international long distance calls, which are exorbitantly priced by Cingular, my GSM carrier of choice.

Two devices don’t make a Nokia Mobile VoIP revolution. Moreover, there are nearly half a dozen Nokia phones with WiFi and VoIP capabilities, but they don’t do Gizmo VoIP.

I wonder why Nokia has chosen to work with Gizmo Project, when most of Nokia’s devices come bundled with their own VoIP application. I think its because those VoIP capabilities are as useless as the built-in IM client Nokia bundles with most of its phones. (Some folks tell me that there are NAT issues that cause problems.)

To makethe Nokia VoIP app work with any other VoIP service, say Broadvoice, is so frustrating that it could soon have you reaching for those leftover holiday wines. (I tried it with an Asterisk-based service a friend rigged up for us, without success!) What is even more confounding is that Nokia is making VoIP work on an N Series device, targeting consumers.

VoIP should be a top priority on their E-Series smart phones: these devices are targeted at the business user, have WiFi, and are VoIP capable. Business users make a lot of calls, and could actually be the ones who could use the money savings offered by a Gizmo.

Since E Series phones (hypothetically) use the same Symbian S60 operating system, you would think it would be relatively easy to port Gizmo onto these devices. Unfortunately, that is not the case, because each phone model has its own set of quirks and settings. This indeed is the Achilles heel of mobile VoIP, and we are a long way from solving these problems.

Also see: Truphone, E-Series’ best friend.