BT launches Ribbit platform for developers

Four months after it bought Ribbit, BT is opening the software platform up to developers so they can build innovative telephony services and applications.

BT's Ribbit released its long-awaited Web telephony platform Monday to developers, which BT hopes will help spur innovation for new products and services in the telephony market.

Until now, most telephony advancements have been made by engineers at a particular company working on a closed, proprietary network. But now Ribbit is offering developers the chance to go behind the curtain and use its network to develop new applications.

Developers will be able to gain access to Ribbit's voice over IP SmartSwitch software, as well as a community site and support, monitoring, and management capabilities. The Ribbit platform will allow these developers to design, test, deploy, and manage voice and communication features used on the Web or within other applications. Developers will then be able to sell their applications through a Ribbit Store.

Pricing hasn't been disclosed, but BT plans to charge developers a fee based on the usage of its VoIP platform.

Ribbit, which launched the beta version of its software last year, has already demonstrated how its software can be used to enhance other Web-based applications. Previously, the company integrated its VoIP technology with Saleforce's customer relationship management software so that users can push an e-mail message into Salesforce. This allows them to attach leads and contacts. Users can also make and receive phone calls from within the Salesforce application.

So far, there are already over 600 developers involved in creating new applications on the Ribbit platform, the company said. Some of these applications involve call centers, social networking mash-ups, unified messaging, and other productivity tools.

BT, which bought Ribbit earlier this year for $105 million, said that it's also opening the software platform up to other phone companies. This would allow other carriers to easily access the wide range of new applications that are being created by the more than 7,500 developers who have signed up to use the platform since it was first available in 2007.

"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," Ted Griggs, CEO of Ribbit, 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."

Ribbit is sponsoring a contest to encourage developers to come up with new applications for its platform. The company is offering $100,000 in prize money for the most innovative Ribbit integrations across five general categories. The categories are: business productivity; media, entertainment, and marketing; social networking; carrier integration; and next-gen innovation.