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RIA Weekly 004 – Ribbit Phone Fun, Embedded RIA, Silverlight + NBC, CDN Rumors

In the fourth episode of RIA Weekly we have two guests: Chuck Freedman from Ribbit and Tony MacDonell of Teknision. We talk about Ribbit, “Silicon Valley’s first phone company” and then dive into some of the RIA-related CES talk with Tony.

You can download the MP3 directly, or just subscribe to the RedMonk Radio feed in iTunes or other software to get it automatically.


Ribbit is billed as Silicon Valley’s first phone company and it allows developers to make and receive phone calls right from the browser in their applications. We discuss a little bit about Grand Central and innovation and how it relates to voice on the internet. Chuck explains how Ribbit works. Developers can download a component and drop it into their applications. That component connects to the Ribbit back end to make or receive the call based on the API call. We then talk about how audio/video capabilities tie into RIAs. Chuck says that right now a lot of people are using Ribbit in the enterprise with big applications like adding email to voice. On the consumer side they’re seeing it in widgets and some smaller browser applications.

Coté mentions how something like Ribbit and treating voice like text is light years ahead of what the phone companies offer right now. He also asks Chuck about how Ribbit is playing the larger space. Chuck responds that their goal right now is to build the developer community and they are looking at hooking into a number of services like IM, Twitter, and Facebook. One application they’re working on is an application for disabled veterans who have trouble picking up the phone to dial when they do fund drives. The veterans can use Ribbit to make the call from an application.

Coté asks what the ultimate business model is and how Ribbit makes money. Chuck says there are some things in the works around notification services and transcription services. On the topic of voicemail Coté wonders if things like Ribbit makes it easier to “switch mediums” between voice and IM and email. We talk to Tony about the value of voice on the web. He really likes the idea of being able to use Ribbit to do things your phone doesn’t normally do. Being able to leave voice messages on Web 2.0 sites; using the phone as an input. Tony says it would be great to incorporate the Finetune service and these new web based voice applications.

Coté asks Chuck about whether or not Ribbit will have a Silverlight version and expand outside of Flash. Chuck says that right now Flash is the only technology that can handle the voice as well as they need it to. But he adds that they’re hoping they can incorporate it better into Ajax and other RIA technologies as they add features.

Teknision and CES

Tony tells us about some of the applications they were involved with at CES. They worked on an application with Intel on ultra mobile computers (UMPCs). Tony said a lot of these UMPCs run Windows or Linux, so they’re meant to be full blown operating systems. Intel approached Teknision to create an application that would be intuitive and fun on those small form factors. They took Finetune and the AIR runtime to create a UMPC application on the new Intel devices.

Coté asks about whether these RIA technologies are getting demand on tiny devices. Tony says that there is a lot of interest and that Teknision is doing a lot of mobile. He talks about Flash Lite 3 and some of the Chumby applications that he’s seeing. He and Coté talk about different ways to use the accelerometer and integrating it with applications. Tony says that he thinks the Chumby really appeals to a lot of different kinds of people.

Tony talks about Finetune on the Nokia N95 and how people can now play video and audio right from their phones. We then discuss Flash on the iPhone. Tony and Ryan both provide their own antedates of Flash on the iPhone. Coté asks Tony about Teknisions broader RIA technology and what they’re doing with Silverlight. Tony says that they don’t do “flash code” but that they focus on interface design. He says that Flash is more of a customer driven reqiurement because Flash is everywhere. Ryan mentions that Microsoft has a lot of diverse properties they can use to leverage Silverlight including Xbox, Zune along with all of their servers and media properties. Tony says one problem with Silverlight is that there isn’t a lot of incentive for people to use it right now. Coté corroborates that with his analyst experience and how important the designer developer workflow is to RIAs.

Silverlight News

We discuss one of the big news items from last week, that the Olympics will be exclusively stream video online using Silverlight. Tony mentions that showed the World Junior Hockey championships and required Silverlight. He noted that Silverlight worked well and that the streaming was perfect but that there had been some install issues for some people. Coté and Tony also get into Windows Media Format video and how pervasive that is on the internet. We get into how that will affect Silverlight adoption.

Rumor News

Ryan talks about a rumor (since proved false) that Microsoft is buying Limelight technology. We talk about the role CDNs play in rich Internet applications and Coté mentions how data storage companies could be in a great position to capitalize on the surge in heavy media and applications on the web.

Disclaimer: Microsoft and Adobe are RedMonk clients.

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Categories: RIA Weekly, The Analyst Life.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. Listen and enjoy my RIA Weekly Interview about Ribbit…

    I recently joined RedMonk’s Michael Cote and Adobe’s Ryan Stewart in their RIA Weekly studios for a chat about Ribbit and the future of voice in the RIA space. The two of them were fun to talk with and their conversational chemistry hints …

  2. […] about IdentityMine’s work with Entertainment Tonight on their Emmy site. Following up on our WMV conversation last week, I ask Robby what he thinks the deal is with WMV. In addition to the DRM options, he says the codec […]

  3. […] AIR isn’t about replacing what you’re doing inside the browser. It’s just another option for your users that’s easy to create because the programming technologies for each platform are the same. The guys at Ribbit are showing that perfectly. And as cheesy as it sounds, I think this frog is close to finding the proverbial princess and turning into a prince of Silicon Valley. Cote and I did a podcast with Charles Freedman from Ribbit on RIAWeekly. […]

  4. […] about IdentityMine’s work with Entertainment Tonight on their Emmy site. Following up on our WMV conversation last week, I ask Robby what he thinks the deal is with WMV. In addition to the DRM options, he says the codec […]