Ribbit, Ribbit – a new take on unified telephony

MIT’s Technology Review reports on a new platform called Ribbit which can simplify your life if you have several different phone channels. In my case an office landline; a mobile; a Skype account; a Google account which could do calls if I wanted; until recently a company-networked IP softphone that lived on my laptop (very useful when travelling); and (out of hours) the home phone.

The usual unified communications approach to this problem is to offer presence awareness, allowing the user to specify which one device should be used to receive calls at any particular time and, in the more sophisticated variants, responding to knowledge of where the user is. For example, if the network detects that I’m using my computer from my office then it might switch calls to the IP phone on my desk.

Ribbit has a different approach. A call routed through Ribbit will call all the devices it knows about. And as soon as the call is picked up on any one of them, the others all go quiet too. It doesn’t of itself have some of the additional features that unified solutions from the likes of Cisco or Siemens will offer, such as interchangeability between voice- and text-based channels (tran scribe voicemails into text and email them to me, or forward my emails as voice messages). But Ribbit is also a near-universal application platform, with integration to technologies such as Adobe’s AIR, and developers can build applications which enable these things to be done. There’s already a transcription application linked to salesforce.com, for example.

Instinctively this feels like it would be a whole lot simpler to understand, manage and use than existing developments in unified communications. And – this one will be available to individual use, not tied to a corporate messaging server which is where Cisco and Siemens are aiming. It just might take off. Watch this space!

Links:
Transforming Communication MIT Technology Review, 4 Jan 2008
Ribbit
Crick Waters VP, Product Management and Strategic Business Development, Ribbit (LinkedIn profile)
Siemens Open Communications
Cisco Voice and Unified Communications

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