WebRTC Growth – is it a back-to-school pandemic phenomena?

November 10, 2020

WebRTC growth during 2020 came in waves, just like the pandemic and its quarantines. Here how it looks and where we are all headed.

Let’s look at some interesting performance indicators of WebRTC use and adoption.

2020 is the year of video communications.

2020 is also the year of WebRTC.

Unified Communications & WebRTC

In my introductory slides of my WebRTC workshop 4 months ago, I had that as a very strong theme:

The slide above illustrates what the statistics at the time were for the big meetings vendors.

Since then, the numbers have grown. Microsoft Teams, for example, reached 115M DAU. That’s Daily Active Users.

While not all of the growth is in video calls, these services have a video focus to them.

Out of these 4 vendors:

  • Zoom doesn’t make use of WebRTC, and like it that way
  • Google Meet is “all in” with WebRTC
  • Microsoft Teams has WebRTC support to it, though with pretty limited capabilities
  • Cisco WebEx supports WebRTC rather nicely

Guest access growth for Microsoft Teams and Cisco WebEx can be attributed to some extent to WebRTC. With Google Meet, it is all WebRTC related.

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Meeting Solutions (& WebRTC)

Gartner has its nice magic quadrant diagrams. Here’s the one just published for meeting solutions:

Which of the vendors in this magic quadrant diagram use WebRTC? I’ve marked the vendors in red for you:

The ones not marked might have WebRTC – I am just not aware of it. The ones marked have WebRTC support in production in their products. How central is it to their product is a different question though.

The thing here is that no matter what magic quadrant from Gartner you’ll be looking at for whatever market category that involves communications, WebRTC will be used as the underlying technology by many of the vendors.

Contemplating if WebRTC is the technology to use? Look at the reds above.

A surge in use of WebRTC

I decided to leave the best for last.

Chrome collects and shares statistics of JS API calls in the browser and their “popularity”.

Lets look how getUserMedia() looks like:

Source: here

Interestingly, we see an adoption curve where each round of quarantine raises the use of WebRTC to a higher level.

From a steady, boring 0.05% of use pre-pandemic, the new normal is settling well above 0.2% of the page loads.

How can we explain the rise from July to October? Is this a sustained growth happening as the pandemic found its second wave in different countries and social distancing gradually came back in force throughout the globe? Is it due to the fact that schools started opening around the world in August and September, many of them strictly remotely? Is it due to more services being introduced online that offer WebRTC based communications in them?

AddTransceiver, AddTrack and AddStream show similar trends for the most part.

If you ask WebRTC, we’ve reached the peak of the second wave of the pandemic.

Where do we go from here?

Two alternatives:

  1. A third pandemic wave. Will that raise usage even further?
  2. Vaccine. Even a promise of one sent collaboration stocks down

On a more serious note though, the huge surge in WebRTC traffic brought with it new use cases and a lot of learnings regarding scaling and operationalizing WebRTC.

In our Kranky Geek event next week, we will be discussing these topics a lot. Make sure you register to join us!

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