The Biggest WebRTC Deployments Aren’t Native Ones

March 20, 2014

WebRTC comes in all shapes and sizes, but to grow, you might want to lose some of its characteristics.

If you are a WebRTC purist, then this post isn’t for you. You are not going to like it. Better move on.

Going nativeGoing native with WebRTC might not be your best choice

We’re now two years into this new phenomena called WebRTC. There are over 350 vendors out there using it. Some with live commercial deployments. I had a chat a few colleagues at Enterprise Connect this week. One mentioned his disappointment of not having any commercial B2C WebRTC service out there. By WebRTC he referred to the pure embodiment of it: something running in the browser natively.

I couldn’t agree more, but I believe this is a matter of time.

If you look at the largest WebRTC deployments today of services (not API platforms), you’ll see these ones out there:

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts doesn’t use WebRTC natively. It has parts of it embedded into its code and then packaged as an extension for all browsers.

That said, this is probably the largest deployment that runs WebRTC on a daily basis with a massive number of users.

The only downside to this example is that it comes from Google, the main force behind WebRTC, so it is hard to put it out there as a testament to WebRTC’s success.

Google Chromecast

While Chromecast comes from Google, it uses WebRTC in a totally different way than Hangouts. It has no bidirectional video capabilities and is only used for streaming an Android’s display to a TV.

While no specific sales figures have been publicized for Chromecast, the number is in the millions and it is now starting to sell in additional markets outside the US.

WebRTC inside…

Amazon Mayday

Amazon Mayday uses WebRTC. Just ask WebRTCHacks.

It isn’t pure in any way, but it is powering Amazon’s contact center for its Kindle Fire tablets and enabling Amazon to provide an end-to-end experience unlike any other.

For Amazon, WebRTC was the obvious choice as their Kindle Fire tablets internally make use of the Android OS.

Vonage mobile app

Vonage is using WebRTC to power its mobile apps. They have customized it for their own needs but are following the actual WebRTC codebase’s updates and trying to get back to the fold where it makes sense.

With 2-3 million subscribers prior to its mobile apps introduction, having over a million downloads over Google Play’s store alone makes it a huge success for both Vonage and WebRTC in my book.

Why is that important?

If you plan on building a business around WebRTC, I strongly suggest you review the options that are opened to you not only in its limitations to Chrome, Firefox and Opera browsers today, but rather think on how to take it elsewhere as well.

WebRTC fits in many places – not all of them obvious. It disrupts many existing business models by being free and open source alone. Having it integrated natively in a browser is just an added bonus to some. Treat it like this to increase your service’s footprint.


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  1. if you call hangouts a webrtc deployment, why don’t you include webex as well? It might well beat hangouts in terms of deployment.

    1. Well… there are evidence that Google Hangouts uses the codebase of WebRTC (as does Amazon Mayday). This is enough evidence for me.

      As for WebEx – I have no evidence (or even rumors) that they are using WebRTC’s codebase in any way.

  2. Google Hangouts has developed into one of the best video chat platforms out there.
    Why should Google further develop/support WebRTC in Chrome and Firefox*.
    That would probably only slow and hinder the growth of Hangouts and Google wouldn’t be able to monetarize it anymore. My personal experience is, that i haven’t seen any big progress in webRTC lately. Also take a look at Muaz-Khan’s list:
    http://webrtchacks.com/muaz-khan/
    Like constraints/bandwidth limit/Optimized AEC/CPU Optimization still missing and no big progress in the past.

    With the current developing speed in WebRTC it might take years or will never happen to create commercial/production-ready products which can really compete to Skype/Hangouts/etc.

    IMHO

    * Firefox is 90% funded by google http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/foundation/annualreport/2012/

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