In Part 1 I mentioned that some individuals think that WebRTC will fail because the key players in this space have their own vested interests that might be threatened. Let’s dive a little further into this.
With the advent of Mobile and Broadband, we’re seeing a number of disruptive technology companies spring up. These are notably Skype, Voxer, Viber, Whatsapp, Gtalk, KakaoTalk (and the line of Asian made Messengers), even Netflix Hulu, and Youtube. These companies are what is called OTT or Over the Top Content Providers. What makes these companies unique and disruptive is that they deliver data without the Internet Service Provider having any involvement in the distribution or control of the content.
- Skype, Voxer, and Viber, Google Voice – Is currently disrupting traditional voice calls
- Whatsapp, KakaoTalk (and the line of Asian made Messengers), even Facebook – Is currently disrupting SMS
- Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube – Is currently disrupting Cable and Satellite
The good thing about these companies is that we’re seeing some really strong innovation coming from all sides whereas the old Monopoly held by the phone and cable providers is slowly being broken down. The problem with the current model is that there is a walled garden. If you want to reach your friend on Facetime but he owns a PC and only has Skype, well you’re out of luck.
Part of the goal with WebRTC is simply to break down this walled garden and have everything be open. This could lead to a revolution in the way the web works simply because Rich Real Time Communication could be achieved right through your Browser. And because WebRTC has a VOIP codec, you can phone your friends directly from your browser. Imagine an online boutique setting something like that up where an online shopper could start getting help from an ‘online sales clerk’ just by clicking on an ‘Ask Us For Help’ button.
The problem with WebRTC though, is that the major players and their stake in this space will be threatened. Microsoft owns Skype which they bought for $8.5 Billion. Apple competes with Skype with Facetime and iMessage. Both companies own 2 out of 5 of the most used Internet Browsers on the Market today: IE and Safari. Not to mention, WebRTC can potentially be a big problem for the Telcos (although an Olive Branch of Peace was extended to them by Google apparently).
The current draft of WebRTC is in jeopardy if Microsoft and Apple don’t agree to the same terms that Google, Opera, and Mozilla agree to. The all important getUserMedia() and PeerConnection API are already implemented in Chrome, Opera, and Firefox. Microsoft has said it wants to do it’s own WebRTC thing and proposed their own draft, and Apple… well Apple hasn’t even submitted a draft.
In the end it’s a political thing and it’s all about control of vested interests and money. Google has the most to gain with WebRTC being successfully implemented whereas Skype and Facetime will have some soul searching to do. One thing is certain, the demand is there and we’re already seeing WebRTC support from PaSS companies such as OpenTok.
If the past was all about Cloud Computing, 2013 and beyond might very well be all about Cloud Communication.
PS. If you want to know more about WebRTC there is a lot of information regarding this topic that is fascinating. Here’s a really good read with much more detail on the topic: WebRTC: “Revolutionary,” or All Hype?