Startup Ribbit finally comes out

ribbit_logo.jpgBack in July of last year, I wrote about Silicon Valley startup Ribbit when it was a yet another startup in stealth mode, surmising that Ribbit is a softswitch-based VoIP telephony service that is accessible from a browser via a Flash application. Well, Ribbit has “come out” – and announced that its new platform is expected to go on sale in the first quarter of 2008. And this prediction turns out to be correct, but there’s a little bit more to Ribbit than just a Flash application.

The technology is designed to work through virtually any Flash-enabled browser and from any mobile phone or fixed location with an Internet connection, meaning that Ribbit is not limited to a particular device. For example, calls placed on mobile phones can be answered via a Flash widget on a Web browser, on a regular phone, on a VoIP client, or through a desktop widget. Ribbit’s platform will even transcribe user voice mail into text messages (another also ran). And it will offer support for existing Web-based voice services, such as Google Talk, MSN, and Skype.

Basically, Ribbit is trying to make voice easy-to-use by untangling voice from the regular (POTS) phone and alleviating the need to download a client. However, this is not new because Jaxtr, Skype, and others are also trying to achieve that.

What’s interesting is that Ribbit is integrating with other applications – One example is the Ribbit for Sales force workflow integration application, which will enable mobile calls, voice messages, and text transcriptions to flow right into Salesforce.com’s CRM environment on the Web. Ribbit will provide third-party partners and application developers tools for integrating voice into their applications using Adobe’s Flash and Flex tools.

Overall, Ribbit is taking the right approach of integrating with other applications – but this is nothing new. For example, Microsoft is also building voice and ‘Unified Communications’ into applications such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, although Microsoft OCS (Office Communication Server) is mostly geared towards business customers

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Ribbit claims to be “Silicon Valley’s First Phone Company”, but there are others such as Ooma, which are also phone companies because they provide call switching. Most importantly, Ribbit is trying to package this as something new – this is nothing but a marketing tactic and smart people will recognize that Ribbit is just one of many in this space.

What is Ribbit up to?

ribbit_logo.jpgRibbit is yet-another startup in stealth mode. According to its web site,

Ribbit offers a new way to communicate without the hassle of additional software or hardware, and without having to purchase a new device.

Putting voice and choice back into communications…is what Ribbit does.

So we now know its some kind of telecom or Voice service provider. Hmmm….no software or hardware…I hope its not vaporware :-).

Looking at the Management team bios, it is clear that these folks have hardcore telecom backgrounds (i.e. client-server centric rather than peer-to-peer)

  • “carrier-class softswitch”
  • “TDM and voice packet infrastructure”
  • “carrier-grade products with reliability and scalability”
  • “voice-activated dialing, single number service, personal telephony assistant”
  • “distributed call control element and an ECTF S.100-based application platform”
  • “converged VoIP and fixed wireless services”

No one would assemble such an experienced team without intending to leverage that experience, so I’d venture that this is a softswitch-based VoIP application. Nothing out of the ordinary here – everyone and their mother has been doing softswitch in the last 5 years.

Looking further, Ribbit is developing a flash platform. See Director of User Experience, Flash Platform and this for evidence. This also ties in with some of the management team’s titles – “VP Applications” and “GM Software as a Service Ecosystem”.

Ribbit appears to be a softswitch-based VoIP telephony service that is accessible from a browser via a Flash application. Flash works on both PC environments and on mobile devices, so it would be a good choice for a service that runs on both PCs and mobile devices and offers a great user experience.

Yahoo launches SmartAds

Yahoo today launched SmartAds, a new advertising platform that gives marketers a way to deliver tailored display ads to targeted audiences. SmartAds works by connecting users with their expressed interests. For example, if a user is looking for hybrid cars in Yahoo Autos and had previously selected San Francisco as his or her default location in Yahoo Weather, Yahoo’s SmartAds platform can assemble and deliver a display ad in real time that showcases a hybrid vehicle, along with local dealer information for SF.

Relying on “behavioral targeting” to display more relevant ads, SmartAds combines rich media capabilities with new ad serving technology to automatically convert a marketers creative campaigns into relevant ads. When advertisers and agencies design a single set of creative components and provide Yahoo with the artwork and a feed to their offer database, Yahoo will use this to generate unique ad combinations.

Testing conducted on Yahoo FareChase has resulted in clickthrough rates of 2x to 3x higher than for static, non-customized ads. SmartAds is initially available to travel industry advertisers on Yahoo! properties. Yahoo will expand to additional vertical industries in the coming months.

All I have to ask is “What took Yahoo! sooo long?” They have so many vertical properties, so Yahoo! is in a competitively advantageous position, say over Google, to mine data on individual tastes across these sites.

Interestingly, when searching Google for “SmartAds” results in the following correction/suggestion from Google:

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Related Articles:

  1. Yahoo launches SmartAds advertising platform
  2. Yahoo Gets Smart in Online Ad Competition

Why Google should purchase Zvents or Eventful

A few days ago, Google Calendar introduced a new feature called Calendar ‘Galley’ that contains a variety of event listings from the likes of Atlantic Records, Cordless Recordings, Disney, Eventful, JamBase, Orbitz, the NBA, Netflix, The New York Times, TLC, Wcities, and Zvents. This makes it easy for one to find an event and add it to the Google calendar. This includes events such as NBA games (hot right now), Netflix DVD rental availability dates, events related to the US 2008 elections, as well as events from eventful and Zvents.

Thomas Claburn in Google Introduces Calendar ‘Galley’ points out that Google characterizes its event listings as “as an incredibly plugged-in friend who helps you remember all the hottest events, or that personal concierge you always dreamed of hiring.” Thomas notes that, according to Hitwise, Google Calendar gets the highest U.S. visitor market share. Also, Google is the leading online calendar, writes Elinor Mills in a rather long-winded Google Calendar colors a CNET reporter’s day.

Continue reading Why Google should purchase Zvents or Eventful

Gaboogie’s Dont-Call-Me-I’ll-Call-You Conferencing

Gaboogie is a conferencing service with a major twist. Instead of you dialing into a conference, the conference dials you! Talk about convenience. Now you dont even have to remember your conference calls, because with a mobile phone, the conference will find you at the right time.


Not only that, if someone on a conference gets dropped, she can back into the conference simply by dialing the number that called her. The conference owner can mute or disconnect any participant with one click, a feature I really want so I can shut up that always-talking, know-everything, annoying co-worker from speaking again, ever!

Gaboogie can also record a offers the ability to record and syndicate calls via RSS, so you can go back and listen to everything again!

Continue reading Gaboogie’s Dont-Call-Me-I’ll-Call-You Conferencing

Backlash on “Street View” is great publicity for Google Maps

Google maps has a new “Street View” that shows a street-level view of a location. It currently has panoramic views of miles of streets around San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas, Miami and Denver.

These pictures were taken in real-life, so people that were nearby when the camera was passing by are also captured in the photo (pictures are static and are not updated usually). Some of these pictures are damning (see below photo of a man entering an Adult Book Store)

Google Maps Street Views

 

Continue reading Backlash on “Street View” is great publicity for Google Maps