Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

2008Watch: Ribbit Spawns Its First Consumer Telephony App

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 29, 2008

ribbit_logo_white_450.gifRibbit is on my SVW 2008Watch list. It is a very impressive company with a spot-on business strategy and technology for leading the telephony sector in enterprise, and in consumer sectors.

At the Demo conference in Palm Desert, CA, Ribbit unveiled Amphibian, a consumer application based on its technology that demonstrates the versatility of its telephony platform. Amphibian provides a mobile phone user with unprecedented control over their incoming and outgoing calls.

Through a web browser, it provides users with services such as visual voicemail, you see a picture of the person, plus you can choose to view a transcript of the voicemail. The transcript can be emailed to you along with the MP3 sound file. Or it can be viewed through SMS.

When a call comes in, Ribbit goes out to the Internet and brings back information about the person calling, such as blog posts, videos, photos.

If you don't answer your mobile phone, the caller is routed to Ribbit which will record a voicemail or route it to another phone, or allow the user to take the call from the web browser on a "virtual phone."

You can also call out through the Ribbit virtual phone and it will carry your mobile phone caller ID, which is very useful since many people won't pick up ID-blocked calls or numbers that are unfamiliar.

There is more info and screenshots here:


* Enhanced Visual Voicemail

* Caller ID 2.0

* Web Portability

Foremski's Take: Reasons to watch Ribbit...

Amphibian as an application is impressive. But what is even more impressive is that this is just one example of what can be achieved with Ribbit's telephony platform. By opening up the platform Ribbit is able to quickly spawn a huge number of applications.

There are already more than 2,500 developers integrating telephony features into thousands of other products by using Ribbit's API. This is going to create an explosion of innovative telephony applications.

Ted Griggs, CEO of Ribbit, said,"If you were going build a telephone company today, you wouldn't build it the way telephone companies are today."

By using software and Internet based communications technologies, Ribbit has built a totally new type of telephone company with a flexibility to offer services and applications that weren't possible before.

For example, the iPhone offers visual voicemail, but that service required AT&T to make a large investment in its infrastructure, and commit to a lengthy development time. Using Ribbit technology, a small company can build an application that offers a similar, but better feature, in days. Time to market for telephony applications has been dramatically shattered.

Ribbit has leapfrogged the established telephone companies, which are holding billions of dollars in much older and less versatile, legacy telecoms infrastructure.

E-commerce is built in...

And most importantly, it has created an e-commerce infrastructure that allows developers to charge users. Developers only need to focus on their apps, and not on trying to figure out how to monetize their work.

That same e-commerce infrastructure could potentially be used to monetize other services or products offered through Ribbit based apps, a type of Ribbit PayPal. The e-commerce platform might turn out to be the most valuable part of the company.

It will be interesting to see the types of applications Ribbit enables, and if it can scale its services. Amphibian is a consumer application and consumers are much more forgiving than business users of Ribbit based applications.

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