The company, which markets itself as Silicon Valley's first phone company, enables calls to be made and answered across multiple communication networks, devices, and protocols. Most importantly, Ribbit said, it lets developers create Web applications that use voice without having special knowledge of programming communication apps.
The telephony platform already has been integrated into Salesforce.com's CRM software, and Ribbit said developers can use the communications platform to design, test, provision, deploy, monitor, and bill voice-powered Web applications. Developers will be able to freely market and sell their applications, but they will have to pay Ribbit a fee depending on usage.
"Our vision from the start was 'programmable telephony' -- a platform that enables developers around the globe to design, deploy, and monetize the next generation of telecommunication services," Ribbit CEO Ted Griggs said in a statement. "Now, just four months after BT's acquisition of Ribbit, the platform is live, and we are open for business with developers, systems integrators, and yes, other carriers. ... The platform is now open to anyone -- small businesses, large businesses, telecommunications vendors -- that are looking for ways to innovate with next-generation, Web-based services."
The company said it has more than 7,500 developers working with the platform, which is based on the SmartSwitch software that enables voice to move across landlines, mobile phones, and IM applications. To spur further development, the company is launching a $100,000 contest for the best business productivity, media, social network, and next-generation applications.
The company also is implementing a "Bring Your Own Network" program, which enables other carriers to use the Ribbit software for applications on their own voice networks. This move is part of BT's larger strategy to evolve from a traditional telecom into more of a software-focused telecom, Ribbit said.
In addition to Ribbit, InformationWeek has evaluated three hosted IP PBX systems, which offer small and midsize businesses all the benefits of voice-over-IP services without the cost of buying and maintaining their own switches. Download the report here (registration required).