Ribbit bills itself as “Silicon Valley’s First Phone Company.” Recently I sat down with Ted Griggs, Ribbit’s CEO to talk about that tag line, Ribbit’s business and what’s behind their recent acquisition by British Telecom.
It will be interesting to see how the telecommunications industry is going to handle the coming disruption as the public becomes accustomed to near-free calling and outside competitors like Google Voice and Ribbit accelerate the pace of innovation. After all who would have imagined that Apple would be a dominant player in the music industry, and Amazon would outflank IBM and Cisco in the cloud etc?
For the telcos, I am a small taste of the uncertain future. My Google Voice number brokers and routes my incoming calls, providing visual voicemail, voice to text, SMS aggregation and free domestic calling. When on the road I use my Google Voice number to route all calls to my mobile. When overseas I route incoming calls to Skype. I initiate overseas and long distance calls via the Skype iPhone application (free international calling from my mobile).
While many telcos are happy with their triple plays and rich subscription value of customers I believe they are ripe for an epic takedown. My version of a triple play is Skype, Hulu/Netflix on-demand and my DSL line.
It will be interesting to see if other telcos exercise the same foresight BT seems to have in its acquisition of Ribbit or if they will take their cue from music and newspapers.