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Ribbit Mobile's Launch Shows BT's Strategy Isn't Just All Talk

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ribbitlogoBT’s Ribbit is taking on Google (s goog) Voice with a cloud-based service that combines Internet voice, smart call routing and voicemail transcriptions. Like Google Voice, Ribbit Mobile allows consumers to transfer calls from an existing mobile number to Ribbit’s platform, which includes features such as routing calls to mobile phones and transcribing voicemails. Ribbit Mobile can forward calls to Skype, MSN or Google Talk Accounts, and can alert users to missed calls or new voicemails via e-mail, Skype, Google Talk or text message.

While the offering appears to be a worthy competitor to Google Voice, it also underscores BT’s larger strategy of merging its voice business with the Internet. BT acquired Ribbit in a $105 million deal last year and installed Ribbit founder Ted Griggs as chief technology officer of BT Voice in an attempt to expand beyond traditional cellular telephone service into alternative forms of communication.

BT’s strategy is one that is surely being studied by savvy network operators around the world. Consumers are increasingly turning to web-based services such as Facebook, Twitter and instant messaging to communicate with others, and Skype’s 40 million-plus daily users prove that Internet voice has gained mass-market traction. Voice still accounts for the vast majority of revenues for carriers around the world, but operators will have to embrace alternative forms of communication as the Internet collides with the traditional mobile industry. Whether Ribbit Mobile can overtake Google Voice has yet to be determined, but BT’s strategy of embracing Internet-based communications is refreshingly progressive in the conservative world of mobile telecoms.

6 Responses to “Ribbit Mobile's Launch Shows BT's Strategy Isn't Just All Talk”

  1. the free trial looks great. you can use a SIP device and can get a free number in US. plus you have all sort of fancy call routing functions. but to get the full service after beta will be $30.00/month. they may find they have a very hard time converting beta users to paying users. especially since GV is free and offers much of the functionality.

    • Hey ‘anon’: Ribbit Mobile will have a free/basic plan for users, so you can choose to role into that once we GA. The ‘Pro’ package is geared toward individuals who feel being unavailable is unacceptable. Folks like me who cannot afford to miss a call (consultants, doctors, service people, etc.). Will we/they be willing to pay $30/month for it? Only time will tell. The key is to offer options so you can create the right plan for yourself.

      • Kristie,

        i see what you are getting at. to me one problem with ribbit mobile as a service for people who ‘can not afford to miss a call’ is that it appears to be using many workarounds/hacks. for example the links to skype and MSN i assume are not part of a special deal with those corporations but actually some instances running on a server someplace as a ‘hack’ connection. for the ‘must be reachable crowd’ the only real option is direct calls to landlines and cell phones.

        i do see ribbit mobile as very interesting. but that is as a geek/hacker and an early adopter who has a strong interest in everything VOIP. most people like me(who i see as your biggest audience considering the features offered) are not going to spend $30.00 a month and would not find the free version feature rich enough to be interesting.

        what would be very interesting is a sort of hosted PBX/VOIPswitch that includes your call routing to the VoIM networks and skype and perhaps the possibility of using voicemail and transcriptions at a flat rate annual fee. i would probably be willing to pay around a $100/year but not much more. but i would not need any PSTN termination or DID’s as long as the platform allowed flexibility it terms of SIP access for inbound and third party termination providers.

        at least i would like to think that the free accounts after beta could use services like outbound PSTN calling on a per minute basis.

        by the way is it possible to place SIP calls to a ribbit mobile account?