I wonder where Temasys is really headed…
When Temasys launched their WebRTC plugin it was a novelty. The only other alternative for a plugin only solution was webrtc4all which wasn’t highly maintained and had its share of issues.
The interesting part of the Temasys WebRTC plugin was actually the way it was packaged and distributed:
- Binary only form
- Free for all
- Hosted on a CDN “sponsored” by Temasys
The tune behind that move was that this should be more of a commodity than anything else, and it positioned Temasys nicely in the market with 2 distinct messages:
- We are here to stay and you should notice us
- We are so good at it that we don’t see the plugin we develop as the real advantage we have over our competitors
It was an excellent move at the time. It caused Priologic to hurriedly release their own plugin just to later on wind down that effort.
That last move by Temasys is somewhat confusing to me. They are now offering licensing for their WebRTC plugin:
Commercial licensing of the plugin for both widely used browsers is the next step in Temasys’ vision to propagate the technology, […] As part of Temasys’ commercialization efforts, enterprise customers can now integrate WebRTC in a manner consistent with their own branding and user experience by taking advantage of the full range of available customization options, with more options to control their distribution, updates and security mechanisms.
Looks like a Steve Jobs “one more thing” moment gone wrong.
We started off with a single plugin to rule them all and we’re now fanning it out to fragmentation and customization.
I was assured by the folks at Temasys that their WebRTC plugin will remain freely available to all, so at the face of it, this won’t affect those who wish to use it as they did up until now.
The thing that bugs me is the fact that Temasys are willing to accommodate requests for customization – anything from white labeling to adding features and codecs to the plugin. While this may work nicely for some vendors, it begs the question in two specific routes:
- When paid customers are involved in a free offering, how much attention is given to the free ones?
- What is Temasys trying to be?
Paid vs Free
I understand that Temasys is there to make money. Opening up a plugin for free was a bold move to begin with, especially for a startup the size of Temasys.
The pressure to make money is probably growing, which got them to decide on the paid route – to “pay the bills” until they attract enough customers for their platform. This shift means less attention to the free version – no matter how many promises are given.
This also reduced the credibility of Temasys a bit. This should have come up earlier on – when the initial free version was announced. It changes the story a bit, and in ways that weren’t in “our original agreement” with Temasys. So it isn’t completely free now, but free with a support/customization option. I am guessing the change was due to requests from potential customers as well as the need to get more money into the company. I assume it wasn’t due to a calculated move to attract publicity to the free offering and then put a monetization model on top of it. But it does leave a sour taste.
That said, the Temasys plugin is probably still the easiest alternative out there for those who need it.
What Temasys wants to be when it grows up?
This is the bigger question.
Temasys are a WebRTC API Platform vendor. They are one of those I have been following for awhile and covering in my report on WebRTC API Platforms.
Offering a customizable plugin as one of the things they offer while developing an API platform to fit a large number of vendors as well as the long tail of developers is quite challenging. It is also defocusing.
It begs the question – what does Temasys wants in its end game? They can’t be everything for everyone, and they will need to end up choosing. While I assume their main choice hasn’t changed – providing a platform to vendors who want to add communication capabilities – this latest option for their plugin doesn’t serve this purpose.
Some final notes
I love Temasys as a vendor. Their offering makes sense. The people I have interacted with at Temasys are smart. I think they have real potential in the WebRTC ecosystem.
I just don’t think that a customized plugin is going to turn the needle enough for them in the long run. I’d be happier to hear a new feature or two in their SaaS platform instead.
Need to know where WebRTC is available? Download this free WebRTC Device Cheat Sheet.