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Rebtel shutters developer service, spins off Twilio competitor as separate company

Boy smartphone Pabak Sarkar Flickr
Image Credit: Pabak Sarkar/Flickr

You know that chat feature in your favorite dating app? Or that text message you get when your the car you ordered from your ride-sharing service has arrived? Well, those communications features can be built into apps through software development kits (SDKs), and a new one — Sinch — is hitting the market today.

Sinch, which spun out of voice-over-IP giant Rebtel, is now open for business to help iOS and Android app developers add a communications layer to their apps. Sinch’s products were originally Rebtel’s developer offerings, but have become a separate company due to high demand.

“The only thing an app developer would need to do is integrate a couple of lines of code,” Sinch chief executive Andreas Bernström told VentureBeat in an interview.


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Sinch provides app-to-app calling, app-to-telephone calling, instant messaging, and text messaging. Its services are available in different pricing tiers, from free all the way up to customized plans for very large customers.

“What we started around 18 months ago was to package the backend of our technology because we were getting requests to use the backend of our technology. Communications is such an intrinsic need in applications. This service is something a large proportion of applications are going to need,” said Bernström.

Naturally, there are several companies with competing services. One of the most visible recently is Layer, which won last year’s Startup Battlefield at the TechCrunch Disrupt event. Layer bills itself as “The open communications Layer for the Internet” and plans to offer similar services to Sinch through easy-to-integrate application program interfaces. However, unlike Sinch, Layer is still in a closed beta phase.

“Layer [is] obviously in a similar space. I’m not quite sure what exactly they’re going to be launching. [But] the ability to actually integrate with real telephones” is not something that Layer will provide, said Bernström.

Twilio is an even better known player, although it focuses on enabling apps to make and receive phone calls and send and receive text messages, a slightly different scope from what Sinch does.

Sinch has received $12 million in funding from investors such as Index Ventures and Balderton Capital. The company has offices in San Francisco, Calif. and Stockholm, Sweden. It plans to use some of the funding to expand its sales and business development staff in the U.S.

 

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