You have got to hand it to the VoIP provider, Rebtel. Though they lack the physical presence of other more established services, they are making their voices heard above the din of the crowd. They are kind of like the obnoxious frat kid who continually blurts out short bursts of vociferous commentary during lectures or shouts inappropriately when a speaker visits campus, except Rebtel does so with productive annotation.
We have called attention to many of the emerging VoIP applications that cause a ruckus when initially joining the market. They’re like many hip-hop “artists” who emerge on the scene with a chip on their shoulder after the hook to their catchy single is chanted by intoxicated club goers for a couple months. More often than not, fame dwindles into the abyss when their drone followers’ attention is diverted to the next one hit wonder or the new album release from an artist of substance.
The key for these applications to become successful in the market is not simply the mobile app or softphone app offered by the company. It is the ability to integrate these applications into other services that makes a VoIP successful.
The go-to VoIP app, Skype, has been a forerunner in this area as they provide a highly integrative URI for developers to plug into web services and other applications. While not always profitable, this broadens the user base and can help generate revenue in some instances. Skype has very specific guidelines for using their service, which in a nutshell, revolves around how developers represent their brand and utilize their service alongside their own.
Skype does not generally allow for the application to be fully embedded into a website or application. For example, large companies that have the application embedded (e.g. Facebook) have a contract with the service where money exchanges hands. You don’t pay money to use Facebook or their Skype-powered chat application, but Skype is collecting money from the site for the service usage.
Rebtel is following Skype’s example, but they are more open than Skype. With Rebtel, you can fully integrate their service into a website or application through their SDK. Service is free to a certain extent. This is why a small clause is included in the Rebtel SDK License Agreement that states that although the service is free, they reserve to right to charge you if deemed necessary. However, organizations supposedly must have a number of users well into 8 figures before this fee is required.
Rebtel seems to be heading in the right direction as no other “good” VoIP service offers this level of integration. Will they eventually overtake Skype? Probably not. At least they are well on their way to a silver medal, blowing past many of the soon to be washed up apps that clutter the VoIP market.