Twilio, the startup that lets developers incorporate cloud-based voice and messaging services directly into mobile and web apps via a series of APIs, continues to scale up its business — crucial to how the company will make money on its low-cost service in the longer term. Today, Twilio added five more countries in beta to its list of supported markets for voice services: Czech Republic, Greece, Israel, Romania and Switzerland — with Israel being the company’s first move outside of the U.S. and Europe. And it’s continuing to ramp up its offer of more localized services, with regional numbers now available in Belgium, Finland, Sweden and Spain. Counting full and beta services, Twilio’s voice services are now available in 19 countries.
The expansion, product specialist Lisa Weitekamp tells me, is a precursor to the next steps Twilio will take into international waters. The next region that it is likely to tackle, she says, is Asia Pacific, covering not just countries like Japan but also Australia and New Zealand. Latin America is also in line, as are more services — with either faxing or MMS possibly next in line.
Belgium, Finland, Sweden and Spain now join the UK and U.S. among countries where Twilio offers local numbers. Across all regions, the local numbers will be available for a price of $1 per number, per month.
Meanwhile, among new markets being added to the company’s voice beta, the Czech Republic, Greece and Switzerland are also priced at $1 per number per month, while Israel and Romania will cost $5. These are based on the prices that Twilio itself gets charged to obtain these numbers.
While Twilio has largely stuck with its simple $1 model, that is liable to change as the company grows. “As time goes on, as we expand to more countries in the future not every country will have numbers that will be offered for a dollar,” Weitekamp says. “That is the nature of the beast.”
All inbound minutes to Twilio phone numbers cost $0.01.
As we’ve pointed out before, the Twilio philosophy is that making voice calls and sending text messages should be as easy as it is today to send emails. “Simply because you are based in one country or another, you should still be able to easily contact your customers through your apps, no matter where they are,” Patrick Malatack, product manager for Twilio, once told me. That service is used by companies like eBay, Airbnb and Salesforce.com, among many others.
The move into Israel and further into Eastern Europe — both tech-heavy markets — has been partly motivated by a “lot of demand,” to serve customers in those regions, Weitekamp says. She would not comment on whether that will also bring Twilio into Russia, currently considered Europe’s biggest internet market, at some point. “It’s still something that we are working on,” she said.
As with other countries in the beta, developers need to go to Twilio’s site to register their interest before getting access to the APIs, which Twilio will be doing in the coming weeks. There, users can also register for updates on services in specific countries.
As Twilio has continued its international growth, Weitekamp says that it’s become somewhat easier to negotiate with local telcos to speed up rollout, considering that two years ago, the service was only available in two countries. “We believe it will only get easier,” rather than more difficult, she says. Now that Twilio has covered almost all of Europe, the next batch of countries, she suggests, might be in Asia Pacific, with Latin America also an area where Twilio is also looking to move.
As for services that Twilio may offer in future, “we’ve definitely heard some rustlings about fax as well as more services messaging space such as MMS,” she notes. “Video calling is also something” Twilio is considering, as is SIP connectivity for enterprise users.
“These are all things that we are evaluating and figuring out how and when we wil incorporate them into the platform,” she says.