WebRTC is a Distraction

March 14, 2016

Had to take this one out of my system.


Just in time for Enterprise Connect, Dave Michels decided to write a post to attract readers. The title? WebRTC is a distraction. It is hard to pin point what’s wrong with the arguments in this one, but most of them are just lacking in knowledge or understanding of this market and how it operates, which is sad – especially coming from Dave who I value very much.

The 4 main reasons why it is a distraction for Dave?

  1. Limited support
  2. Mobile is what really matters
  3. Why bother?
  4. WebRTC is dangerous

Let’s try to dismantle each of these so called arguments one by one. Shall we?

#1 – Limited Support

WebRTC today runs on Chrome and Firefox. Microsoft went for ORTC (=WebRTC) and is now “considering” WebRTC as well.

Apple isn’t there, but frankly – I almost never hear complains about Safari not having WebRTC. For some reason, Mac uses have been trained to use Chrome when needed. Furthermore, there’s work been done at Apple about WebRTC, if you care about rumors.

Add to that the fact that no other solution runs on a browser. No other. None. Zilch. They are all getting thrown out from browsers who are stopping support for plugins, Java and probably Flash in the future. And what else have this amount of support anyway?

Now, you can use WebRTC as a desktop app, using a plugin, through Java – or in whatever other manner people use their comms today – so that limited support is wider than any other alternative to date.

#Doesn’t work for you? Don’t use it. But don’t complain that others are using it and are happy about it.

#2 – Mobile is what really matters

To whom?

And while at it, using WebRTC inside an app makes a lot of sense. You shouldn’t care about the technology – just your customers. If they want apps, give them apps. Wrap WebRTC and be done with it.

There’s no other serious media engine for mobile that can be considered – the price point for it will be too prohibitive as well as the investment made.

Mobile is what really matters, which is why Facebook Messenger uses WebRTC. In both mobile and desktop. And is probably larger in deployment, users, minutes, seconds and engagement than anything else the unified communications market has to show for its huge success in its 10+ years of existence.

You know what? I am tired of waiting for unified communications to happen. It is time we take matters into our own hands (with WebRTC) instead of waiting for these large stale companies to move at a reasonable pace and come up with a workable solution.

#3 – Why bother?

Dave says Google no longer cares or invests in WebRTC. I’d say this can’t be further away from the truth.

Google are heavily invested in WebRTC today, based on the number of new features and changes they bring with every new version of Chrome (which happens every 6-8 weeks as opposed to 12-18 months of the slow vendors Dave asks us to put our trust in).

The pace of change for WebRTC is staggering. Nothing comes close to it.

In the span of a year, we’ve seen the echo canceler getting replaced in WebRTC, VP9 introduced, H.264 is underway, ORTC related APIs getting added and that’s just what I can remember off the top of my head (and really took place in the last couple of months only).

Will Google continue at these breakneck speed? Who knows? For now, I’ll take what I am given – especially for free.

#4 – WebRTC is dangerous

Not sure where to start here.

With Unified Communications and its current cadre of vendors, the issues raised by Dave (things you don’t understand and control coupled with hard to patch and upgrade) are a lot more dangerous.

Do you know when your PBX was upgraded last for that critical security issue it had? Do you even know if it was upgraded at all? What about the router you have at home? This FUD about security in WebRTC wreaks of misundersanding of the technology.

We are living in a world where we move everything to the cloud and our mobile devices. In such a world, security needs to be taken seriously. Not by introducing stupid proprietary solutions that are hard to manage or maintain, but rather by introducing cloud based solutions that can upgrade and update automatically. Ones where security is taken into account from the ground up and not as a bolt on feature to show the buyer.

WebRTC has all that and more, so if you think WebRTC is dangerous – sure it is. To anyone who is trying to compete against the companies using it. In the long run, resistance is futile.

The truth of it

Google doesn’t care about the unified communication market when it comes to WebRTC.

They just couldn’t care less if this does headaches to Cisco or Polycom or anyone else in this market. The way vendors are bitching about WebRTC shows how they view VoIP and UC as their own, as if they are entitled to what goes on there and as if someone needs to think about their business models and legacy deployments so they don’t get hurt.

Get over it.

WebRTC is a huge distraction to those who aren’t built to embrace it. They are going to fade away. Just a matter of time. And Dave – you won’t need to wait much longer for it to happen.


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    1. Jawaid,

      I don’t see Dave or these companies as losers. A lot of them are working hard to get to where WebRTC is – and a lot of them are making more money at this point than most WebRTC vendors. We’re in a market under transition so change is bound to happen. Not all new vendors will survive and not all established vendors will die.

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