Updated: Ribbit croaks, just three years after $105m BT deal

The decision by British Telecom to buy internet telephony service Ribbit for $105m in 2008 drew out plenty of questions. Three years later the criticisms have come full circle, with news that the most visible part of the business is being shut down.

Ringio: Sophisticated Phone and Customer Management

The developers call Ringio a “new approach for call collaboration.” When a call comes in, users are presented with a real-time popup showing data about the caller, so that one can decide to take the call, redirect the caller to voicemail or to another team member.

Ribbit Mobile’s Launch Shows BT’s Strategy Isn’t Just All Talk

ribbitlogoBT’s Ribbit is taking on Google (s goog) Voice with a cloud-based service that combines Internet voice, smart call routing and voicemail transcriptions. Like Google Voice, Ribbit Mobile allows consumers to transfer calls from an existing mobile number to Ribbit’s platform, which includes features such as routing calls to mobile phones and transcribing voicemails. Ribbit Mobile can forward calls to Skype, MSN or Google Talk Accounts, and can alert users to missed calls or new voicemails via e-mail, Skype, Google Talk or text message. Read More about Ribbit Mobile’s Launch Shows BT’s Strategy Isn’t Just All Talk

With Ribbit, BT Is Rethinking Its Voice Business

When BT, formerly known as British Telecom, splurged and bought Mountain View, Calif.,-based Ribbit for $105 million some 15 months ago, I dismissed it as an attempt by an aging incumbent carrier to reinvent itself as a web-savvy, next-generation communications provider that was unlikely to succeed. “BT has always been long on promise, but short on execution of its grand vision,” I wrote.

Fast-forward to today and BT has fully embraced the new communications reality, one that goes beyond mere voice calls. And to show how serious it is, the company has made Ribbit founder Ted Griggs the chief technology officer of BT Voice. Read More about With Ribbit, BT Is Rethinking Its Voice Business

VoicePHP: Indian Startup Marries Voice with PHP

hiww2Marrying web applications with voice has long been seen as the proverbial pot of gold: easy to dream about but hard to actually find. A few startups (and some large companies) are trying to solve the problem; some are using Voice XML, while others are betting on Adobe’s Flash. Today, TringMe, a Bangalore, India-based startup has thrown its hat in the ring by coming up with a way to marry VoIP with PHP, the lingua franca of the contemporary web. TringMe describes VoicePHP as an extension of PHP that now outputs voice instead of text and also takes input as voice instead of text. [digg=http://digg.com/tech_news/Indian_startup_arranges_a_marriage_of_VoIP_and_PHP]

Basically, VoicePHP is intended to do the same things as VoiceXML, but by using the familiar PHP programming methology. In doing so, it wants to attract a large pool of PHP-savvy developers and have them develop voice applications. (See how it works.) This is an even simpler approach than the one floated by Ribbit, a Silicon Valley-based company that was acquired by British Telecom in July 2008 for $105 million. Ribbit is betting on the large-scale adoption of Flash and hopes its Flash-centric solution would become the engine that powers web-voice applications.

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Green Gorillas Shows Kids How To Save The Planet

NTV StationThis week brought the release of Episode 2 of Gorilla in the Greenhouse, an animated educational series from SustainLane. Like the Earth Day debut episode, Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Turn It Up Day is a great piece of work, managing to be both genuinely entertaining and informative. Green gorilla KJ is an enigmatic environmental savant, telling the future through riddles that the kids who share his greenhouse must solve in order to ward off threats to the planet. (And in their spare time, they have a rock band. Of course.)

Gorilla in the Greenhouse fires on all cylinders: It teaches complex issues in a digestible way; it shows the characters taking practical action; and it even goes a little deeper, teaching kids to not buy into the hype about something just because it calls itself green, but to really learn about what’s going on behind the scenes. More episodes are due for 2009, but there’s plenty on the site for kids to run with in the way of extra info and projects in the meantime.

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New MacBook HDCP Impairing External Displays

In what seems like another addition to a long list of examples of how when you rent digital content, you’re actually renting it with a strict set of conditions, Apple owners are running into trouble with High Definition Content Protection (HDCP). The problem, affecting owners of the new aluminum MacBooks and MacBook Pro, occurs when you try to play some iTunes-rented movies on an external display attached to your notebook.

The HDCP causing the problem is intended to prevent copying high-def content across an HDMI connection. It’s also included in DisplayPort tech, which is the new standard for video output on current generation Mac portable computers. According to Ars Technica, the problem seems to affect movies protected by Apple’s FairPlay Version 3 DRM, although not all files which have Version 3 protection are affected. Whether or not the movie plays appears to be somewhat random, at least in Ars’ limited sample pool.
The person who pointed out the problem to Ars was just trying to play Hellboy 2 for a class of high school students using an external projector. Another case reported in an Apple support discussion thread occurred when a MacBook owner tried to playback content to his external 19-inch monitor. This report was quickly joined by many, many others. In all cases, playback works fine on the computer’s built-in display.
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BT Buys Ribbit for $105 Million

BT (British Telecom) has acquired Silicon Valley-based Ribbit for roughly $105 million, according to various news outlets. Rumors of the deal first emerged on Venturebeat, though company officials vociferously denied any deal. Our sources say the delays were mostly due to internal issues at Ribbit.

Michael Boustridge, President, BT Americas said: “The Ribbit platform makes it simpler, cheaper and faster to build communications functionality into applications, enabling developers to introduce new revenue-generating voice services in hours, rather than weeks. By combining the Ribbit platform with BT’s existing web services, we have the potential to deliver some of the world’s finest applications for communications innovation benefiting consumers and businesses alike.”

As we have pointed out before, there seems to be a lot of interest in merging voice with Internet applications, but the whole process hasn’t been a slamdunk. Dameon Welch-Abernathy, in his post earlier this month pointed out: Read More about BT Buys Ribbit for $105 Million