Ribbit Mobile Coming to an End?

First, let me say thank you to all of you who have written and called about the end of Ribbit.  

No matter how much we mentally prepare for the loss of Ribbit Mobile, there is no amount of preparation we can do to deflect the blow.  When the e-mail hit our inboxes this week, the sentiments of loyal – and dare I say addicted – users poured forth.

It’s no small matter to those who really use the service.  One woman wrote:

I’m heartbroken…
Gotta start researching alternatives. I can never go back!

It’s true.  There is no service like it out there.  Yes, one can cobble together Skype + Google Voice + PhoneTag …. and almost get there.  There just isn’t a full replacement.  Period.

Will BT Reincarnate Ribbit Mobile?

There is talk.  Rumors really – that there is more fire than we can see from the smoke of the dying embers.

Ready for a Ribbit Mobile resurgence?  Here’s you can do:

BT is considering releasing a successor to Ribbit Mobile and is running both a pre-release sign up and a poll to determine what features we value.

Fill out the Ribbit Mobile successor form.  Go to http://www.ribbit.com/contact/form_699.html and fill out the form, choosing the features you value most.

Here’s what it looks like:

I the mean time ….. 0ne user wrote:

Could you write a paragraph or two on options for those of us addicted to Ribbit?  Then we can all just forward it on to our friends.  

The options for Ribbit users depend on how each of used the service.  Here goes a pass at alternatives.  Any readers out there with other suggestions, pipe in!

  • Transcription:  If you are really addicted only the transcription and e-mail/SMS delivery of voice mail, you have several choices.
    • PhoneTag:  Ribbit uses PhoneTag in the back end.   As Ribbit users, we’ve been getting a $10-$30 per month service for free.  The service is still there…. it’s just not free any more.  Switching to PhoneTag is painless… and it will work (almost) as well.  (almost because PhoneTag limits transcription length.  Ribbit effectively did not allowing up to three minutes of message length).  I like PhoneTag and the founder, Jamie Siminoff, is a good friend.
    • YouMail:  YouMail (I think) also uses PhoneTag in the back end for their premium service.  YouMail comes with a bunch of other bells and whistles so it’s worth checking out.
    • Carrier:  Check with your carrier.  Many of them offer transcription (often also powered by PhoneTag).
    • Google Voice:  I was at Google today and even they laugh about the “transcription entertainment service.”  If free is your thing, then Google is your answer.  You just won’t get  premium transcriptions.
    • What you wont get:  is the searchable UI, integration of address book, long transcriptions, and free service.

  • Call Routing:  If you don’t know what this is, you may not be using it.  Ribbit directs calls to your mobile phone to any other phone you choose – home, office, etc.  As far as I know, no other service does this.
    • Google Voice:  Google voice will give you an additional telephone number that, when called, will route the caller to one of your other phones – mobile, home, office, etc.  For this to work, the caller must call the Google number.  If the caller dials your mobile number, then the routing Google offers does not work.  So this is a partial solution only.
  • SIP, ATA, VoIP, Telephone adapters: If you don’t know what these are, you won’t miss them.  For the rest, loss of SIP endpoints – telephone adapters, soft clients, mobile handset clients – is devastating.  I know people who use Ribbit to power home phones, office phones, PC phones, and ,mobile soft-clients for use over wi-fi when travelling internationally.  The great thing about Ribbit mobile is that all of these phones behaved as if they were your mobile number.  They’d ring when someone called your mobile, and when you called anyone from these phones, your mobile number would be your caller ID.  Awesome.  Gone.
    • There is no direct substitute.
    • There are numerous VoIP providers from whom one can buy service.  They all come with new telephone numbers and do not work with your mobile.  The closest you can get is using missed-call forwarding on your mobile to send calls placed to your mobile over to your new VoIP number when you don’t answer your mobile.  You’ll need to use the VoIP provider’s voice mail, and when you call from your VoIP phone, it will present your VoIP phone’s caller ID – not your mobile number.
    • Skype ATA:  Skype is cheap.  $2.99 a months for 10,000 minutes of calls per month.  Wow.  If you buy a Skype Telephone Adapter from Actiontec and set up Skype to use your mobile as the caller ID,you get pretty close.  Outbound calls from you home/office phone will present with your mobile caller ID.
    • Skype IN:  You can also buy a telephone number from Skype.  If you then send your missed-mobile calls to this Skype IN number, then calls to you mobile can be answered on your new Skype home/office phone connected to the Actiontec telephone adapter.  Getting complicated – I know.
    • And that leaves Skype as your voice mail provider.  However, you may still want transcriptions… so then tell Skype to send unanswered calls to your Google Voice or PhoneTag account and BAM! you’re back in business.
    • YIKES!
  • Click to call:  Now we open a whole can of worms.  Ribbit Mobile web did this better than anyone.  You could import you contacts from Plaxo, start to type a name in Ribbit, and the number of the person would be filled in.  Then choose what phone you want to use, mobile, home, work, even Skype – and dial.  Ribbit did the rest.  I’m afraid this capability is going to be sorely missed.
  • Search Voice Mail:  Google voice does this.  Probably YouMail too, though I don’t know for sure.

I’m glad BT found in Ribbit the core telephony technology they needed – truly glad –

And I hope BT reincarnates Ribbit Mobile soon.

Ribbit Mobile 1.0:  Feb 2008 – Jan 2012

Silicon Valley’s First Phone Company, Demo 2008


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