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Hold the phones: Breaking News from the first-ever Twilio Conference

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Telephones and technology have had a strange coexistence. Yes, smartphones are ubiquitous, but what about the actual telephone part of that phone? You know, like your phone number. And telecommunications.

Telephone calls and voicemail are almost a relic of the past. In fact the other day I heard this joke: "Someday there will be a technology that reads your text messages to you. And then, there will be a new advance that reads the text message in the voice of the person who sent you the text. After that, there will be a way for someone to actually call you."

I would have agreed with that joke before I got an old-fashioned phone call from Twilio CEO and co-founder Jeff Lawson.

Lawson explained to me how Twilio is making telecommunications relevant and effective again. And he hopes that Twilio Connect, the company's new release announced today at TwilioCon, the first ever Twilio conference in downtown San Francisco, will make it even easier for developers to use telecommunications.

Lawson said he figured out the disconnect between web technology and phones early in the game. Lawson was the CTO of stubhub.com, the site that allows people to easily buy and sell tickets. At first StubHub had an idea to initiate an automated phone call to dispatch a courier to pick up and deliver tickets once someone made a sale, but they soon realized that web developers don't know the first thing about telecom. They didn't know how to build it.

This realization that the web and phones need to connect happened three times before Lawson decided to start Twilio.

Since it first became available in 2008, Twilio has been powering mobile developers. From call tracking, to texting a message that shuts the garage door, to easy-to-set-up call centers, entrepreneurs and companies have found many ways to use Twilio's cloud communication technology to connect the web with phones.

Twilio Connect is the next step in making telecommunication accessible to developers. Twilio now takes care of billing the end user for any phone calls or text messages, while developers price their applications using "traditional software-as-a-service pricing models."

Before Twilio Connect, developers had to figure out how to price and monetize their applications. This was problematic due to, as Lawson said, "the highly variable cost structure of communications."

By simplifying the payment process, Twilio Connect enables developers to focus on what they do best - solve problems - and provides consumers with a simple price structures for web and mobile apps.

Consumers just need a Twilio account to get started with any of the apps that use Twilio Connect. The single-page sign-up lets consumers buy without any friction.

Twilio Connect launch partners include Optimizely, MuleSoft, Mobile Commons, and GoodData. It is available today for all Twilio accounts for no additional charge.

If Twilio has its way, telephones will remain relevant.

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