Utterly dominated by Skype over the last two years, client-side VoIP services have begun to flourish during the second half of 2005. This competitive rush makes sense when you consider that there are currently over one billion Internet users worldwide, only 40 million of whom subscribe to Skype.
In recent months, Gizmo Project and PeerMe have launched new VoIP client services. Additionally, Google has released its own service, GoogleTalk, while AOL has announced plans to evolve AIM into a brand new platform named Triton. Even Sony is getting into the act with IVE, an Internet phone service with an emphasis on videoconferencing. Meanwhile, Skype isn't standing still: It has released a beta 2.0 version that includes free video calling.
The Mission: Beating Skype
Regardless of the competition, Skype (which was reviewed back in July) remains the 18-ton gorilla in VoIP, with an outstanding combination of ease-of-use, voice quality and extra features/services that transcend other narrow peer-to-peer VoIP services that preceded it. (The fact that its basic service is free doesn't hurt either.)
For example, the SkypeOut service allows you to quickly and easily make phone calls to anywhere around the globe at extremely affordable rates. (Example: A 60-minute call to Barcelona would cost only a little more than two bucks.) Additionally, by setting up a SkypeIn account, you can set up your own telephone number in any area or country code you desire. Skype also offers conveniences such as voice mail and conference calls.