Ribbit Launches Google Voice Challenger

ribbit_mobile_logo_nov09.pngRibbit just announced the launch of Ribbit Mobile. Ribbit Mobile is a cloud-based VoIP telephony service that brings together web-based calling, smart call routing and voicemail transcriptions.
It is hard to look at Ribbit Mobile without comparing it to Google Voice. Just like Google Voice, Ribbit gives users a new phone number or they can use call forwarding to transfer calls from their mobile phones to Ribbit's platform. Ribbit Mobile also has quite a few features that Google doesn't offer, including the ability to make calls from within the browser.


More Features than Google Voice

As Ribbit Mobile is part of Ribbit's open VoIP platform, the service can even forward calls to your Skype, MSN or Google Talk account if you don't pick up your mobile phone. Whenever you miss a call or when a new voicemail arrives, Ribbit can also ping you by email, Skype, Google Talk or SMS. Through its partners, Ribbit offers widgets for popular start pages like iGoogle and social networks like Facebook and MySpace. Through these - as well as on the service's homepage - users can receive and place calls from their browsers. This is a feature that Google Voice doesn't offer yet.
GrandCentral, which Google bought and then transformed into Google Voice, offered some of the features that Ribbit Mobile now offers. Google dropped quite a few useful features like call chains from Google Voice's feature line-up, however.
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Besides call chains, another nice feature of Ribbit Mobile is that you can choose which number will appear on your contacts' phones when you call, even if you are calling from your computer. Once you are on a call, you can also easily transfer calls from any device to another. Because of this, you can start a call in the web interface or iGoogle and then continue the call on your cell phone.
Just like Google Voice, Ribbit gives users the option to set up a new phone number for their Ribbit accounts. Users can search for a specific number and letter combination in these numbers. For now, Ribbit only offers numbers in select cities such as California and New York.
A service like Ribbit Mobile wouldn't be very useful as you couldn't easily import your contacts. Thankfully, users can import contacts from Plaxo and as an Outlook CSV file (Google Contacts can export an Outlook CSV file).


Caller ID 2.0

As Ribbit's CEO Ted Griggs and co-founder Crick Waters told us yesterday, the company wants users to look at Ribbit Mobile as a "personal customer relationship management (CRM) platform." To do so, Ribbit Mobile doesn't just display a caller's name and phone number. Users can also add notes to every call and connect their Ribbit address book with their Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Flickr accounts. Through this, the Ribbit team noted, conversations can now take place within a context.
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Voicemail Transcriptions

Ribbit offers two levels of voicemail transcriptions. Free accounts come with automated transcriptions. Users with professional accounts - which are free during the beta period - can also choose to have 'business-class' level transcriptions, where a human checks the computer-transcribed text and edits it.

Ribbit for Developers

Because Ribbit is an open platform, developers can use the service in their own applications. Ribbit already features five apps in its app store, including an SMS widget, an Adobe AIR app for checking voicemails and a conference widget. Ribbit also plans to launch its own mobile applications for the iPhone and Blackberry platforms soon. Developers are free to charge for their applications and Ribbit also offers a profit-sharing program where developers will be paid if users use their applications.

Joining the Beta

Ribbit will slowly scale the service up over the next few weeks. The company will hand out new accounts on a first come, first serve basis. You can sign up for an account here. All service levels are available for free during the beta period, though Ribbit plans to charge for the pro accounts later on.

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