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Engaged, Broadsoft? Or just shacked up.

It seems everybody is jumping into the mashup platform game these days. Just yesterday, Broadsoft pumped out a release announcing their new developer program. According to the release, the new Broadsoft Xtended Developers Program “allows software developers to integrate BroadSoft’s carrier-grade voice applications with unified communications solutions and leading Web-based business and consumer applications such as Facebook and Salesforce.com. ”

Also mentioned in the release was the creation of the Xtended Marketplace, a site where developers can post their mashups, and market them to carriers. According to Broadsoft’s Omar Paul, “Already, some developers have been engaged by our service-provider customers after posting their mashups on the Xtended Marketplace. That’s what sets our developers program apart from others: We have a customer base of hundreds of service providers and millions of end-users willing to pay for new apps that add value to solutions they use every day.”

Hmmm.

Carriers are mostly aircraft carrier sized businesses that have trouble steering more than 10 or 20 degrees of their current course, while developers tend to be jetskiers wake jumping outside the carrier’s path. I can’t say that I’ve ever had a great experience, as a developer, marketing applications to a carrier. It makes for good PR that “some developers have been engaged by service-providers”, but the question that is left unanswered is whether the carriers will respect these “engaged” developers in the morning.

Who’s making money from these telecom mashups Broadsoft?

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Omar April 25, 2008, 5:41 pm

    Fair point, about the carrier telco-space and Web 2.0 space not mixing well. BroadSoft dealt with it first-hand when we decided last year to move along this path, its one thing to say you can mash voice with some cool website, and its another to give a carrier the tools along with it to protect their network. We started out by enhancing the core platform with non-buzzy but extremely useful things like overload rate limiting, URL filtering, etc…before launching the actual RESTful API set.

    Specific to my quote, what we saw was one carrier customer see an application done and posted on the Marketplace, understand its relevance to what they were offering their customers and come ask us and that developer how it works, would it hurt them to deploy that, would it need enhancing, etc…

    Also, since our customer base does consist of non-carriers as well; they’re actually way more eager in the near term to use this, because it allows them to differentiate their phone service – “its not just a phone number you get from us, you also get the ability to integrate into your daily apps”. Some of these service providers are using their IT resources to integrate BroadSoft into a target vertical markets’ popular apps, and sell that as a value add-on to voice.

    BroadSoft makes no money from the dev program nor the marketplace. We’d make money when our customers buy more user licenses and seats on the core BroadWorks platform, when they see more customers signing up because voice-as-a-web 2.0-service is possible over a BroadSoft-based VoIP offering.

    Not easy, clearly. But necessary to initiate…and frankly we’d rather be giving our customers the tools now than later.

  • Alec April 26, 2008, 9:12 am

    Omar,

    I can appreciate, and indeed would expect, that Broadsoft make no money from the developer program. Supporting developers is the price of entry for a platform player.

    Except for specialized IT vendors, however, I am having trouble believing that developers are making serious money with even very clever mashups in the carrier space. Carriers are nearly universally rear-vision businesses, as we discovered to our surprise after spending two years marketing products that we had built to them.

    But you know, I would be happy (nay ecstatic) to be proven wrong. Keep me posted!

  • JoeDeveloper April 26, 2008, 4:10 pm

    Hi Alec,

    I got into the VoIP development space about 4 years ago while working for a carrier. After leaving the carrier awhile back I started developing applications against the knowledge that I had learned.

    You’re right, it’s not easy to monetize apps or to get carriers on board with your ideas. From my point of view I’m not as much interested in actually getting carriers on board with the mashup(s), because unless it really boosts their core business (and revenue) they won’t touch it.

    However, carriers have a lot of customers that are very much into the web 2.0 space and are friendly to these kind of things. This I think is the area to reach out to.

    By leveraging the carrier network and it’s features (specifically broadsoft in this respect), you can then deliver (as they call it) “Carrier Grade” applications to the web 2.0 space. Is it easy to monetize social apps? Simply put, no not really. Is it possible? yes.

    Additionally, understanding a carriers’ problems in relation to their customers needs will provide you with a honeypot of solutions that will sell.

    Just my .02 as another developer in this space.

    -JoeDeveloper

  • The Big Cheese April 27, 2008, 12:24 am

    SimpleSignal is a Broadsoft service provider that I founded in 2004 and am leading into web 2.0 today. We are a “real life” example of what Omar was talking about with regard to “non-carriers” using web 2.0 apps to differentiate. For example, we suggested to Braodsoft there was a need for an app that would allow salesforce.com users to be integrated into our switch. Their developers responded quickly and we have been selling this added functionality to salesforce users for the last 6 months.

    We’ve capitalized on our ability to be nimble and fast to market with new functionality. This gives us a distinct advantage over the carriers that can only “move their ship only 10 or 20 degrees” Thank God for the “jetskiers” that are hard at work creating new and innovative ways to use the phone. The Broadsoft facebook connector can connect vast markets to our company. However, new and really cool apps like I saw at web 2.0 in SF last week are still being created everyday without a telephony component. That oversight must be corrected soon. We can bring a market to a developer, help them monetize it and put it into the market in a very short time.

    Web 2.0 needs a voice. SimpleSignal intends to give it one.

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