When I made those initial Skype for iPhone calls last weekend, not only did I gain a quick appreciation of the voice quality but I also realized that the forthcoming multi-tasking feature of iPhone OS4 could offer new possibilities. Yes, multi-tasking would facilitate Skype’s Instant Messaging in an “always-on” mode but there could also be an even richer experience for business users. Having attended eComm 2010 a couple of months ago, I recalled that Ringio, who introduced their offering at that event, may have that business-savvy application.
Basically think of Ringio as providing a “lite” customer relationship manager for businesses relying heavily on mobile communications. When you either call a contact or receive a call from a “known” contact, Ringio can bring up contextual information that provides background information that may assist both your conversation and team productivity. In fact, they recently demonstrated this concept with their announcement of Ringio Mobile PBX for Android. Fellow Voyces.com blogger Larry Lisser positions Ringio in All hail the Mobile PBX. Ringio calls it like it is:
To be clear, Ringio’s not expecting you to have desk phone. The focus of their innovation is to drive context into phone conversations, leveraging the information we already store about a given inbound caller (ie. when they called last, who they spoke to, what they bought last, when they were last served, and so on). Ringio is one amongst many moving quickly to bring far more context, than simply Caller ID, to a phone call.
With its aggregation of background notes, conversation outcomes, voice mail messages, online presence status and call logs, Ringio appears to bring elements of enterprise level computer-telephone integration to the small business entrepreneur. While only launched six weeks ago, according to a recent interview with Ringio CEO Sam Aparicio, they are already gaining traction with consultants as well as small business sales and tech support teams. Joining Google Market Place, with integration into Google Contacts and GMail, certainly assists in building awareness.
Sam went on to explain that Ringio can bring a unique form of team building and collaboration for a small business. When job descriptions and responsibilities can have a lot of gray areas as the business builds its revenues and customer base and any team member could be answering the phones, with Ringio any member answering a contact’s call can readily be aware of previous conversations with other team members.
While they have delivered an application for Android, Ringio needs to consider offering not only an iPhone application, potentially supporting Skype for iPhone (and iPad?), but also a BlackBerry Super App to support the largest North American business smartphone vendor today.
Here’s the other challenge for these applications – whether it’s the iPhone, BlackBerry or one of many Android offerings, holding the phone up to the ear of course makes it impossible to see this information during a voice conversation. Aside from using the speakerphone mode, would this be an ideal application for having a full headset (mic plus speakers) for the various smartphones?
Bottom line: Ringio should provide a good gage on how readily the Voice 2.0 Manifesto, with its focus on “applications as the value creators”, will be implemented into the mobile smartphone market space. Where generating awareness can be a larger challenge than delivering the appropriate technology, users in the broad small business market space need to see user interfaces and to have user experiences that encourage adoption. Calling a product a mobile PBX and actually delivering with a broadly accepted solution is the execution challenge for Ringio.
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