Can't We All Just Communicate?
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PALM DESERT, CALIF. -- Whether it's managing your voicemail from your computer desktop or updating your blog through your phone, communications advancements marked the first day of DEMO, the biannual conference of new products and services.
Among the most ambitious here at DEMO is Silicon Valley startup Ribbit, which connects mobile phone users with the Web. Once you've registered your mobile phone at the company's Web site, you can manage all your communications from the desktop.
Ribbit's service also provides users with a range of added features.
For example, you can view brief, transcribed previews of phone messages and search through them using keywords. For an additional fee, the offering converts phone messages entirely into text.
Ribbit is currently in private beta and expects to be available to the public this Spring.
The company's Amphibian developer platform has already attracted 3,000 enterprise and consumer-focused developers, who can create new features they can sell through the Ribbit store.
One third-party Amphibian product offers the look and some of the features of Apple's iPhone on the PC. Another is tailored to appeal to Salesforce.com users.
The company said it also supports Google's Open Social initiative for social networks. When receiving a call, for example, Ribbit can quickly pull in feeds from various social networks. letting you view publicly available profiles and other information.
"It's Caller ID 2.0," Ribbit co-founder Crick Waters said.
Another phone-meets-Internet service at the show comes from Toktumi, which offers features of more expensive high-end office phone systems to smaller offices and home-based businesses.
The company said it's defined a new product category it calls "P2PPBX" (a term merging both P2P, or peer-to-peer technology, with the venerable PBX.) The hosted solution taps the processing power of a company's existing PCs to do its call routing.
Following an initial installation on a user's PC, Toktumi's product offers features like dialing by name, enabling users to place calls by typing in their contact's name. It also provides Caller ID that appears on the PC screen, allowing users to decide whether to answer, send it to voicemail or transfer the call. Toktumi's offering also supports conferences of up to 20 other people.
The service doesn't require special phones -- it works with mic-equipped PC headsets, but users can connect an external phone using an adapter.
The package also provides a range of management capabilities -- automatic call-forwarding or accepting incoming calls with a pre-recorded greeting. If your PC or Internet connection is down, calls are automatically stored on to Toktumi's servers as voicemail or forwarded to your cell phone.
Another new service at DEMO called 800PBX brings Web and e-mail access to mobile phone users.
The company's 800 Genie, now in beta, reads e-mail aloud over the phone -- allowing you to call in to receive and reply to messages from services like Gmail. You can also access other applications from your phone, and even update your blog via voice.