Developing WebRTC projects with third party APIs.
WebRTC has built a vibrant tooling ecosystem around it: a large number of vendors and individuals offering different types of code pieces, SDKs and services that can be used to shorten the time from idea to a running service.
One of the interesting aspects of it is companies like Blacc Spot Media who specialize in using 3rd party WebRTC API platforms to assist others in realizing their use case. I had a discussion with Lantre Barr, Founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media. It was interesting for me to hear from Lantre, whose company I have been “bumping into” once in a while when talking to vendors.
What is Blacc Spot Media all about?
Blacc Spot Media, Inc. is a development firm specializing in Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC). We decided at an early stage that having a niche made us more competitive and WebRTC became a natural fit. Over the past few years we have developed over 20+ WebRTC applications for both large and small clients all over the world. Our goal is to be the premier WebRTC development firm in the world.
What excites you about working in WebRTC?
WebRTC offers endless possibilities and opportunities to bring enriched, high quality and affordable real-time communications to the world. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what WebRTC will evolve into in the future. It gives me goose bumps to think of how fast technology is advancing and I’m excited to be a part of history in the making. It makes me believe that what we see in movies like Minority Report can become a reality sooner rather than later.
You have opted for using WebRTC API Platform vendors for the work you do for your customers. Why is that?
While we have the ability to build WebRTC platforms from the ground up for some of our enterprise clients like AT&T, the vast majority of our clients who want to integrate WebRTC into their applications are startups. Given that most startups have limited budgets for proofs of concepts and minimal viable products, it only makes sense to go with a low cost solution to start. Startups allow us to build innovative solutions to bring to market, which we love to do. It also allows our clients to make changes to their applications quickly and efficiently.
For example, one of our clients Regroup Therapy initially started off using TokBox as their WebRTC provider but moved over to AddLive to get support across all browsers. It was a month long process to move over to AddLive instead of the 3 to 6 months and significant capital investment that is typically required to build from scratch.
It all depends on the specific needs of the client we are working with at the time. I have a few clients who have started off using some of the vendors in the market but are now looking to build platforms from the ground up after proving their use cases.
Where do you see WebRTC going in 2-5 years?
I think within the next 2-5 years we will see explosive growth in the world of WebRTC. Once interoperability with Internet Explorer and Safari has been achieved the excuses for companies to adopt WebRTC will start to fade. While many people think WebRTC is over hyped, this is far from the truth. As you (Tsahi) have pointed out before, there are only around 3,000 people on LinkedIn who work with WebRTC today. I think in the near future we will start to see 10s if not 100s of thousands of people adding WebRTC to their tool box. I believe one of the biggest catalysts to get developers and companies to take notice will be when TokBox and Mozilla release their integrated web chat application to the over 400M+ Firefox users.
If you had one piece of advice for those thinking of adopting WebRTC, what would it be?
Given that the WebRTC 1.0 specification is still a working draft and not yet standardized, I tell all my clients to keep an open mind for change. While WebRTC is being used every day by many different companies, it is still a baby in terms of interoperability and adoption. As WebRTC evolves so should your application and product offerings. Think outside the box, WebRTC is not just a video chat application. It should enhance your application and engage your users.
Given the opportunity, what would you change in WebRTC?
Just like everyone else I know who works with WebRTC, standardization across browsers is the most important thing at the moment. The journey from adolescence to adulthood for WebRTC is going to an uphill battle but things are moving in a positive manner. Microsoft is actively supporting ORTC, which is planned to be added to the next version of the WebRTC specification and Apple will follow suit in the near future.
Who do you think will be the biggest winners when it comes to WebRTC?
After attending the most recent WebRTC Expo in Atlanta, I realized that the core reason for Google open sourcing WebRTC has yet to be truly realized. It seemed as if the entire focus of the conference was placed on the telecoms and call center solutions. My team and I ran into a handful of developers, which I view as a major problem, because developers are the innovators that will take WebRTC to the next level. I think it will be up to developers to make a stand and disrupt while the telecoms drag their feet yelling and arguing over which codec is the best.
You decided to build your own product, why is that?
Over the past two years we have had a ton of prospective clients who wanted turn-key solutions since they could not afford custom development. We felt that we were missing a valuable opportunity to fill a gap in the industry. So we decided to develop our first in-house product called Vidtok to help those users who wanted to integrate WebRTC but couldn’t afford the custom development price tag. Vidtok allows anyone to add live video chat to their website with a few lines of code. To simplify the process even more we developed a WordPress plugin to allow users to drop in shortcodes. We launched the new Vidtok on July 1, 2014 and we are starting to see some real interest in the platform. We have a strong product roadmap for Vidtok including a customer service application, 3rd party integration into enterprise systems like Salesforce and much more.
What’s next for Blacc Spot Media?
Blacc Spot Media will continue with our mission to build world class application using WebRTC. We are in the process of partnering with many more WebRTC vendors in the industry to enhance our services and offerings to our clients. We look to expand our footprint into new areas not yet reach by WebRTC and take root in both services and products.
The interviews are intended to give different viewpoints than my own – you can read more WebRTC interviews.