Japan’s KDDI Closes Their Twilio Clone, Partners With Twilio Instead

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Back in April of 2012, KDDI Web Communications (part of KDDI, Japan’s second largest telecoms company) launched boundio. Meant to allow developers to build services that ran over phone lines (like, say, a basic call center), it was sort of like a less-awesome Twilio.

One year later, the company is shuttering boundio and replacing it with… wait for it… Twilio.

We first noted the budding KWC/Twilio partnership back in October , though it was unclear at the time exactly what it meant for the company’s own competing offering. At a press event in Japan today, the company disclosed that registrations for boundio have been closed, and that all existing boundio customers will be moved over to Twilio’s platform.

While I tend to be the last person to care about B2B partnerships like this, this one is actually pretty friggin’ huge for Twilio. Here’s why:

  • As Josh pointed out in October (and as Groupon quickly found out after launching in China), breaking into Asia is hard. Like, really hard. It’s a business culture based on respect and credibility. You don’t just translate your product, fire off a press release, and call it a day. Partnering with someone as large as KDDI gives them cred, without even requiring a local office.
  • Most enterprises in Japan already have billing relationships with KDDI. To use Twilio directly, these enterprises would need to go through the process of approving a new vendor. Since KDDI already has those relationships and all billing will go through them, Twilio is instantly inheriting massive new potential customers who are already prepped to work with them.

To step into a bit of a tangent: boundio is just the latest of many carrier-built software efforts to fall.

WAC — a “unified open platform” that was being built as a joint effort between AT&T, Verizon, China Mobile, Sprint, and others — imploded before it even left the gate. Orange quietly killed off all of their API efforts last month, and mentions of things like Telefonica’s BlueVia seem to come up once every never.

Developers, it would seem, just don’t care to work with carriers when they can avoid it.