Twilio Goes for Best of Suite in the Communications API Space

25/05/2015

Who needs multiple API vendors when you have Twilio?

TwilioConf

I had the opportunity to take part at Twilio’s Signal event. This is Twilio’s main event. While I can babble a lot about the event and the general atmosphere (all positive), I want to discuss a bit the many announcements they have made and how that fits into a coherent whole – one that shoots in all directions and towards all vendors in the communication API space.

What was announced?

For a long-form review, check out Michelle Burbick’s round up of Twilio’s announcements. The gist:

  • Copilot – a set of utilities for phone number handling
  • Alphanumeric SenderID – ability to show a text instead of a phone number when reaching out to customers
  • New numbers in new countries – 6 more countries enter Twilio’s footprint
  • Authy One Touch – login to a website on a desktop via a tap on a phone app
  • Authy for Apple Watch – to have a footprint on the latest from Apple…
  • Video – announced its pricing model
  • Conference – improved on voice conferencing infrastructure and scale
  • IP Messaging – support for presence and IM
  • Twilio Fund – $50M seed fund pledged for startups using its platform

Some thoughts

  • Twilio has become the best of suite solution for Communication API
  • Up until now vendors used multiple platforms to meet their needs, getting video support from one platform, voice and SMS from another and then messaging from another vendor still. Twilio offers all of these functions under a single roof
  • While Twilio may not be the best of breed in each of these areas (video support is new and limited to mesh experiences for now), having a wide gamut of services makes it more compelling than most other alternatives
  • Copilot aims at stickiness of Twilio’s service
    • You start using Twilio for SMS and Voice
    • You then use Copilot features, because it saves you development time
    • Especially what it is time for you to scale
    • And when you do scale, it makes is a wee bit harder to switch to another platform vendor
  • Alphanumeric SenderID, new countries and enhanced voice conference was about increasing their strength at their legacy – voice and SMS
    • While some may see these services as fading, they are as useful as ever
    • Migration to IP will take time, and support for the humble phone number is needed
    • Deepening this support and capabilities means reducing the attraction of other vendor alternatives out there
  • Authy One Touch is a great idea
    • If the execution is as good, this is a great addition for Authy’s 2FA (2 Factor Authentication)
    • This also means a migration from SMS as a 2FA resources toward soft tokens and a better user experience
    • This new user experience comes from less friction and then willingness to use 2FA by services and users alike
    • If some of the announcements of Twilio are about Voice and SMS, this one is all about IP based services in the 2FA segment
  • The video part was all about pricing of real time
    • Most vendors price their WebRTC comms on a per minute basis
    • Others price its by connections
    • Twilio decided to break it down into granular pieces with a “pay as you go” approach that smells a lot like AWS pricing mentality
    • This may either attract potential customers or detract them, as calculating predictable future costs is a bit more complex now
  • IP Messaging is a shot at the bow of Layer
    • A clear definition of what Twilio sees as IP Messaging is was given
    • They got all the bits and pieces correctly for a modern messaging service
      • Multi platform, multi party
      • Synchronization across devices and offline delivery
      • Push notifications support
    • The question will be how does this integrate with their other services, if at all: Twilio Client, video calling, SMS and voice

Why is this important?

It was supposed to be easy:

  1. You need voice and SMS (IP or PSTN it doesn’t matter) – you select Twilio
  2. You need video – you select TokBox

But it never has been easy, and it is now becoming more of a challenge.

The Communication API space is changing, and with it the definition of what it means exactly. Twilio took the necessary steps to stay the market leader. It just became a serious competitor of a few more companies, and a better fit for a lot more vendors looking for communication services.

Those who purchased my Choosing a WebRTC API Platform report and are within their subscription will receive a long-form analysis of Twilio’s announcements and its effect on the WebRTC PaaS and Communication API space.

Planning on selecting a CPaaS vendor? Check out this shortlist of CPaaS vendor selection metrics:

Responses

Gustavo Garcia says:
May 26, 2015

Still easy. Use TokBox 🙂 Just kidding. I was surprised by the lack of SFU support for multiparty video and no integration of the Video SDK with PSTN AFAIK, right?. The implementation of their SDK also looks a bit hacky if you look at the code, but it is only v0.1. Anyway it is nice to have competition, it will make everybody better.

Reply
    Tsahi Levent-Levi says:
    May 26, 2015

    Adding multiparty to video isn’t easy. Doing it on a first release of a popular service like Twilio’s would have been suicide. I guess more is on their roadmap and it is just a matter of time until they get there.

    Reply

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