Nicholas Skinner

Freelance website and web application developer

Archive for October, 2008

BT Shutdown Web21C SDK with 15 days notice to developers

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

BT Web21C LogoBT launched a service it called Web21C SDK around 18 months ago. It offered a number of useful features for developers including location services (cell triangulation on receipt of a text message), inbound/outbound SMS, and the ability to initiate voice/conference calls between parties.

These services were not particularly innovative, as various companies offer SMS services, and the free Asterisk PBX software allows you to do almost anything you need on the voice side of things however what I found attractive about the BT offering was the ease of use for the developer (SDKs for various languages were provided), and straight forward per call rather than per minute charging model.

Talk59 ScreenshotShortly after finding out about the service I developed two main applications using it. The first linked in with an existing back office diary / calendar / contacts system via SMS enabling lookup of contact information, initiating voice calls, retrieving the days events, adding events, and sending out reminders on those events. The second was a calling card type service I named Talk59 which allowed you to enter your number, and the calling parties number, it would then call both parties and connect them together for a fixed cost per call with a time limit of 59 minutes.

Even though I did very little in terms of promotion the site was starting to see a reasonable amount of use, particularly with those in India and Australia. On the 25th of September however BT suddenly sent out an email announcing the service would be suspended on the 10th of October. The fact they only gave 15 days notice while within their rights left myself and others very little time to consider our options for switching to an alternate supplier, and ultimately I decided to discontinue Talk59. Evidently the same decision Fizzcall (who offered a similar service) also came to “You may have noticed that today we suspended purchases and sign-ups on the Fizzcall website”.

Allong with the initial email, BT pitched Ribbit (the company it recently acquired / the reason it is discontinuing Web21C SDK) as a suitable replacement, however after spending some time looking into it as far as I can see Ribbit is primarily aimed at Flash uses, and does not even connect calls to the UK. I am now left trying to claim back credits purchased for Web21C SDK which I can longer spend. For this reason I am left distinctly unimpressed with BT.