Recently, a few customers and partners expressed their interest in white label version of Thirdlane Connect.
Please let us know if you are interested - email to firstname.lastname@example.org
We don't hide that the software is Thirdlane, no need to white label for us. You would need to be able to skin the mobile and desktop apps as well.
As a multi-tenant product offering, we have always believed that Thirdlane should be white labeled. Keep in mind that we make a distinction between white label and "BRANDABLE" which is what Matt seemed to be suggesting.
While brandable would be something nice to have, I realize that there is a large expense associated with maintaining brandable installers for mobile clients as they all need to be independently verified in the Google Play/Apple stores.
However, there is no excuse for the Thirdlane product not to be whitelabeled which is merely a product that lacks any specific brand mentions.
Thirdlane Communications Manager is white label. As far as Connect - usually when we are asked about "white label", it is really not about "generic app" but about at least "minimally brandable" - with logo, name, and possibly a domain. Managing this for all the "app stores" with approvals, and for desktops - with installers, certs, etc, is quite a bit of work - one time and for each new client and each software update.
I keep saying "no" to brandable, but the question is raised again and again - this is why I am asking if there is enough interest from our existing customers.
Third Lane Technologies
Multi Tenant Asterisk PBX
Agree on the brandable workload. What I typically see in the market for multi-tenant products and brandability is that mobile applications are brandable for customers with annual spend in the 7000+ per year range.
For thirdlane, that would translate to customers with licenses for 2000 or more extension licenses, I can understand their expectation of brandable mobile clients based on their spend.
However, I still do not see the reason that the product is not "white labeled" (per my definition) and the product renamed to either simply "Connect" or PBX Connect and removing Thirdlane and the links to the thirdlane websites.
100% in agreement with netriplex. Don't love having every connect user with a link to TL who instantly think they have become an expert on information discussed on the TL open forum, upgrade nfo and shortcomings etc.
At least for MT, I understand you want to sell licenses to every DIY savvy IT person but IMHO it's not very turnkey for most.
Could you please point at the specific vendors and branded applications triggered by the magical $7000 / year that you are referring to on the appstore or google play?
Contact me and I will share. However, I am not open to sharing rebranded products in an open forum.
I should note that some multi-tenant products we use go well above and beyond simple rebranding for that spend. Some also include white-branded, editable documentation, "generic" marketing material such as brochures that can be easily edited to insert your brand name and it is ready to go, web site templates, etc. Basically, they give you a bunch of whitelabel material to promote your business because they realize that if your business grows, so essentially does your licensing spend with them grow.
Please share whatever you see as relevant - just email me at alex at thirdlane.com
As far as marketing - this is not the topic of this thread. It is true that many "marketing heavy" companies provide marketing materials to their partners or resellers. Some may even do it in a "white-label" way, even though I am not aware of that being prevalent or common. There is nothing wrong with this choice, except that Thirdlane is not a marketing heavy company. Our priority has always been to generate value by building the best possible products, and trust that our customers and partners will benefit from that by being able to pass this value to their customers - openly and without hiding Thirdlane brand.
Please lets not use this thread to discuss various aspects of branding and related expectations. If you have specific requirements or suggestions please send them via email as I initially requested.
I want to raise this question to the community again. Are there companies who are willing to pay for branding in Thirdlane Connect? An opportunity to have its own name on the app in App Store and Google Play? Our company ultimately needs this feature and we are ready to sponsorship the development. Just would be helpful to know if anybody else need it and how much you are ready to pay to have this feature. It could be implemented very quickly, cheap and "dirty" or we can put more efforts and create a more robust solution if there are companies who need it. I have created a quick survey which will give us an understanding how far we should go.
We are very interested in this, I have responded to the survey.
We are also very interested in this, however, I would request an update to your survey to add a different option.
"Branding should be included when a minimum license spend of $X is met".
In other words, I'm not willing to pay $400 per month EXTRA for branding, but I'm actually willing to spend a MINIMUM of $600 per month in TOTAL licensing costs to have branding with its associated extension limits (Essentially at the 2000 extension license level).
I would spend $100 per month EXTRA, but I don't think that pricing model would make financial sense to offer as the revenue wouldn't be enough to justify creating branded installers for lower extension limit customers for just an extra $100 per month.
Also, there is a question "How deep should be a level of customization for your company to accept it"? For example, our company is OK to leave mentioning of Thirdlane on the "about" screen and keep "powered by Thirdlane" on the bottom of the Connect login screen. Our major requirement is to show up in Apple store when someone will search for our company products. But I guess, that there will be companies who want completely remove any mentioning on "Thirdlane" from the product.
A couple of other questions:
- are you ready to take care of your Apple Store and Google Play yourself? There is decent piece of work to automate this process and some parts, like, the initial upload of description and screenshots, cannot be automated at all. Do you want someone to take care of it or are you ready to do it on your own?
- do you need to replace an original connect icon in App Store on your own?
Oleg, thank you very much for reviving this discussion. I spoke with a few customers about this, and actually now I see the value of branding (or simply having own app store app) not just as marketing, but in an independent release cycle.
I am not sure if I want to continue discussing all the options for branding in the open forum, but wanted to provide a summary. Here are a few general thoughts about what we can do:
1) Either provide a free branded (not white label) versions to customers with licenses exceeding a certain size (conditions/size to be determined) or offer a sliding scale cost (based on size).
2) Have a one time "setup" fee and a (required) annual or monthly maintenance fee to cover the cost of updates during the year.
3) Allow customers change mobile icons, initial screen, logos, references to Thirdlane in documentation, etc.
4) Make branded versions customer domain(s) specific
5) Keep "Powered by Thirdlane"
6) Provide customers with binaries ready for app stores - it will be customer responsibility to manage app store setup and its content.
7) At this point I am not clear about branding of the desktop versions - it is extra work, requires user certs, changes to installers, and not everyone uses desktop - most branding requests seem to be for mobile. That said, I use MAC version of Connect every day and could not imagine my day without it. Please let me know what you think, we will make the decision based on your feedback.
I am sure I missed something, these are just general thoughts for now.
Please contact me directly to discuss this further or if you are ready to pull the trigger.
A few thoughts...
Are 1 and 2 different potential options of what you are considering because their concepts seem to be in conflict with each other.
3 and 4. Perfect
5. Less valuable to us personally. Thirdlane needs to either make a commitment to service providers with their multitenant product or focus on direct to small business market the way 3CX has. Using their multi-tenant product as an advertisement partially defeats the entire purpose of branding.
7. Similar to number 5, offering an incomplete branded solution in my opinion is basically a waste of time. It needs to be an all or none solution. We work with several vendors that all offer branded products and the desktop/web branding is always the easiest and cheapest part of their solutions. Normally, web branding is included in every multitenant product we use for FREE, desktop branding has a small(er) minimum spend requirements, and mobile is the higher commit/more expensive solution. I am unsure how Thirdlane somehow finds this to be the hard part of the equation. All of the solutions we use essentially offer web based build utilities where desktop clients can be rebuilt with new graphics and text "on the fly" with no interaction on the part of the software developer at all. Essentially, the work involved for this customization would involve Thirdlane putting in the effort 1 time to use external JSON/XML branding files to pull in the customizations into their interfaces and it would then be a hands off product enhancement that would greatly increase the value of the multitenant product.
1) and 2) - What 1) and 2) say is that there may be a sliding scale which at some level/size/total license fee may turn into 0 additional cost.
5) Opinions vary, some customers care, some don't. 3CX is adamant about their brand and logo everywhere, we are not so much. Experience shows that completely hiding Thirdlane is not practical. While this will result in 0 marketing, anyone truly interested will still find the source. Adding another fee for this is not my preference either - keeping a reference without pushing Thirdlane everywhere seems like a reasonable compromise.
7) I am not proposing excluding branding for desktops, it is a question whether some customers would choose not to have it for the sake of reduced costs. Also, I am certain that even if we gave customers perfect tools to "brand themselves", there will be a lot of related support - for on-boarding and more, which will be correlated with the number of platforms and options.
In any case, pease contact Thirdlane sales if you are ready.
can the apps be designed to display a different splash screen on launch? Maybe they can fetch the splash screen from a licensing server? That and perhaps changing a default color scheme could help make it look closer to the ITSP without removing the name from the app store. The app doesnt work without a server. One thing really cool about ZOIPer mobile softphone was its camera function to scan a QRcode which was everything it needed to register, it contained user/pass/servername/etc. Maybe whitelabel the app until they scan a QR code and that tells the app everything they need, including which skin to load.
Thirdlane/Asterisk Support available
This sounds like the way to go to me. Keep the apps foundations, no need to re-certify with Apple, and we love using the QR code generator for Zoiper as well. Would be a great feature as literally no one has been able to log in to Connect without some help at least in our client pool. (They always put in the wrong password, and/or put in https:// in front of the server name.)
"5) Opinions vary, some customers care, some don't. 3CX is adamant about their brand and logo everywhere, we are not so much. Experience shows that completely hiding Thirdlane is not practical. While this will result in 0 marketing, anyone truly interested will still find the source. Adding another fee for this is not my preference either - keeping a reference without pushing Thirdlane everywhere seems like a reasonable compromise."
3CX doesn't offer a multi-tenant product. They push run our software for free in a cloud environment until you become large enough for us to start billing you directly. We have clients as large as 25-30 extensions running on free editions of 3CX on virtual servers. So of course they are going to brand their product everywhere, they are not targeting the PBXaaS market. They are looking for IaaS providers to push their brand. Making a direct comparison to their model is completely unproductive. Thirdlane with their single tenant product essentially mirrors the 3CX model with the 10 extension free license, but Thirdlane also is looking to a different market segment their multi-tenant product. If you want a multi-tenant audience, you need to be willing to white-label. If Thirdlane appears NOWHERE, and the customer still finds the source, great, completely understandable. Usually in those circumstances, the customer has a reason where they are highly dissatisfied with the service provider where they are spending the time and effort to find the underlying software provider. This is vastly different that the software provider being thrown in the face of the customer at every turn. It becomes very difficult to bill customers with 1-10 extensions a certain fee when they realize they can obtain the same product for free and host it in Amazon EC2 themselves.
I think you continue to still underestimate the value of simply having a white-labeled mobile application and white-labeled desktop application. Maybe a white label mobile app with a branded desktop which can be more easily built with branding information being stored in local JSON files like many other multi-tenant products use for branding their desktop application).
Secondly, Connect needs to be written for server version checks and remain compatible with previous releases. the codebase for previous versions is already there and written. There is no reason new development/changes cannot be made within if blocks surrounding version checks to maintain backwards compatibility to at least 1 MAJOR revision number change (8 to 9, 9 to 10, etc).
If those are implemented, the rest is overthinking. If you have someone that truly wants branded mobile installers, there should be a high enough fee where covering the costs of managing the Apple store and Play store edition makes it worthwhile to build the mobile application twice.
We now offer rebranding of Thirdlane Connect for mobile and desktops. Contact us for details.