José Ribamar Smolka Ramos
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Julho 2008               Índice Geral


Telco 2.0 - BT: Ribbit deal start of  "global telecom platform wars"

----- Original Message -----
From: José de Ribamar Smolka Ramos
Sent: Thursday, July 31, 2008 1:10 PM
Subject: [] Telco 2.0

Não sou muito de reproduzir textos alheios, mas este merece. Cheguei nele atravé do blog Telco 2.0 . O artigo original está aqui . Enjoy...

[ ]'s

J. R. Smolka

BT: Ribbit deal start of  "global telecom platform wars"

Jul 30, 2008 11:50 AM, Rich Karpinski

BT's JP Rangaswami isn't one to think small. So it's no surprise that in an interview following his company's acquisition of telco 2.0 platform vendor Ribbit Monday he characterized the move as the first shot in the "global telecom platform wars."

"First and foremost, we wanted to raise stakes," said Rangaswami, managing director of service design at BT. "We've begun our transformation to a software-based service mindset. Ribbit shared with us the idea of voice as a feature rather than an application."

For BT, acquiring Ribbit accelerates – by about a year, according to Rangaswami – development plans the telco already had on its road map. While its current Web21C software development kit (SDK) has met with some success, it remains a fairly complex prospect to build applications using the BT platform. Ribbit moves telephony development to the mainstream Web developer comfortable using technologies like Adobe Flash and Flex.

The key for BT was to shed the "not invented here" mindset that plagues the typical service provider. In doing so, BT believes it has positioned itself as one of the few global players able to fully exploit the potential of "voice as a feature," Rangaswami said.

"What we expect the competition to do – and we think it will much more likely be the Apples and Googles of the world – is to start positioning around a device [such as the iPhone] or an approach to connectivity [such as Google's ad-based Web model]," he said. "There will be very few companies who have the capacity to say as we will that they are going to innovate around the globe with new services that take advantage of voice as a feature."

Apple's iPhone App Store – which just this week passed 1000 applications – is perhaps the most visible success story in the race to build a communications-focused SDK that would appeal to mainstream developers, albeit one focused on a single device. For its part, Google has yet to make its big bet, up to now allowing its Web telephony acquisition Grand Central wither on the vine while its Android platform won't fully appear until early next year.

Incumbent telcos, meanwhile, have had a mixed start in allowing more open application development. Verizon Wireless touted its open network approach earlier this year, but has been relatively quiet since then. Vendor BroadSoft – which counts many Tier 1 carriers among its VoIP platform customers – has been aggressively pushing its SDK platform, though its still in its early days.

BT first came out to Ribbit's Silicon Valley headquarters about seven months ago, and the startup was surprised at how well the two companies fit together, said Ribbit CEO Ted Griggs in the same interview. "We were obviously curious as to how [the meeting] would go. But by the end of the conversation we realized that they'd focused on interfaces that fed into the network, SOAP interfaces, etc., while we'd built client-side interfaces. We could each go and build what the other side had or we could bring together these two likeminded companies and declare victory, essentially."

While a declaration of "victory" is undoubtedly premature, the two companies do make an interesting pairing. BT promises to let Ribbit run independently while over time bringing together the two company's APIs and deliver services via BT's global network.

Perhaps the biggest challenge in bringing Ribbit into the fold – and one that other telcos will face when looking at similar deals – was to structure the acquisition of a classic, Silicon Valley "pre-revenue" startup. To that end, Rangaswami said, BT isn't putting specific revenue goals on Ribbit, rather focusing their effort on leveraging its technology and growing its now-combined developer communities.


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