This morning Ribbit and BT confirmed previous rumors by announcing an acquisition price of $105 million. I've been a big fan of Ribbit since they launched because they made voice a first class citizen and data type for rich Internet applications. They helped bridge the gap between voice in your browser and voice on a phone by basically turning it into content that you could access a number of different ways (MP3 files, text transcriptions) and they very early targeted developers by offering a free SDK that made it -very- simple to add that voice to any Flex-based RIA. Then they launched Amphibian and started making a play for the consumer space.
Now, with the acquisition, they're going to become a major player. They have BT's infrastructure and money behind them so they can scale, reach new customers, and offer more services. And they can start getting deals in areas that would have previously been off limits.
The beauty of Ribbit is two-fold. One, that it's very easy to create voice-centric applications or integrate voice into your RIAs. The APIs that they've created span the range from making a phone call, to getting contact information or sending an SMS. The platform allows you to pick and choose what features you want to use, so you can bite off a little bit or create a full-fledged phone dashboard as part of your application. That means any application can start to add voice in a way that makes sense. The second part of Ribbit that's so nice is that they're building an ecosystem to let developers make money. Through the Ribbit Store, developers can build widgets and then price them and distribute them. By providing a way to make money and a way to distribute, they're working inside the iTunes model but for Flash. I think it's the first instance of a "SWF" store where Flash developers can deploy widgets.
It's a little bit funny to think about "Silicon Valley's First Phone Company" being owned by a British company, but this is a good day for data-enabled voice and voice as a core data type for your applications.