Who is Scrambling Behind ORTC to Catch Microsoft’s Tail Wind?

10/11/2014

ORTC? A great marketing insert for vendors.

Flock

What do you know? Since Microsoft announced ORTC, everybody and their dog are scrambling to support ORTC.

It started with a press release by Hookflash. They were the luckiest. Since they have an editor in place who is assisting in physically writing the specification it gives them bragging rights. Having their name next to Microsoft and Google is precious.

But somehow, that was only the beginning. Right after Microsoft announced plans to add ORTC to a future IE version and plug it in into Skype, vendors took real notice.

And what a better way is there than to go and announce support for ORTC?

Never mind that it isn’t specified yet, and that even its predecessor, WebRTC 1.0 hasn’t been closed either.

Here are a few gems I bumped into since the Skype announcement, in their order of appearance.

SightCall

What better way is there than a press release titled “SightCall Announces ORTC Support“?

From the press release:

The SightCall Platform as a Service adheres to the core ORTC standard outline as it stands today, and SightCall can assure customer of the platform’s compatibility.

So… no real support today since there’s nothing to support and a promise to support it in the future. It is obvious, but thanks for letting us know.

Quobis

Quobis went for a blog post of sorts around Quobis’ support of ORTC:

Our Sippo WebRTC Application Controller will be ready to support the ORTC API as soon as it’s implemented by the browsers.

Loud and clear. They even added a nice illustration to explain why their product, SIPPO, does a great job at ensuring such support.

TokBox

TokBox went for a post explaining why ORTC is important:

The reason why ORTC is important for TokBox is because it opens up the possibility for us to do all of the above without having to use workarounds or hacks to get access to internal capabilities of the WebRTC Browsers.

They gave a good explanation of a technical problem that people can actually understand. The way they’ve put it doesn’t enable their customers to wave this at them if they don’t support ORTC on time, but shows these same customers that ORTC is really really really important for TokBox. A nice move. Extra points to the author of this piece.

Why is this important?

Three reasons for a vendor to go out of his way and announce such things:

  1. Technologists tend to want to support the latest spec out there and to make sure everyone knows about it. This doesn’t seem the case here
  2. Marketers are trying to grab more page views in an effort to get noticed more (hell, I do it here with this post). Some of the vendors here probably took this route
  3. Customers might actually be asking about it, and placing an official notice out there makes sense. I guess one or two of the vendors above are in that category

Microsoft’s announcement puts an end to the question “will WebRTC succeed”. It already did, and it is here to stay. Apple doesn’t have skin in the game yet, but they won’t be able to hold out for too long without it. We can now start focusing on the real questions. H.264…

The vendors announcing support for ORTC here are those who offer API platforms and tools for developers. They are the ones who need to support it first, and seeing them already rallying up and announcing their intents is a good signal to the market.

While I assume all other players have the same intentions, they lost the marketing game in this round.

Responses

Robin Raymond says:
November 10, 2014

For us in the technology side of things, ORTC is about the technology foremost. SDP with offer/answer works fine for simple 1-to-1 calling but gets complex / ugly real fast for asymmetric situations (e.g. conferences, multi-device forking like in Open Peer).

Thankfully the community group was able to come to an evolutionary approach on WebRTC where the ORTC API can support the existing WebRTC API via a shim as needed and where it is entirely wire compatible with WebRTC.

Having said that, companies announcing support is also important to reassure the industry they can invest into WebRTC related technology and they will get the support they need in the industry standards as they emerge / evolve. I can’t say 100% for sure the motivation behind each announcement but whatever the reason, it’s welcomed.

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