3 Takeaways From Martin Geddes on WebRTC

September 26, 2012

Martin Geddes is one of the most important thinkers of our times when it comes to telecommunications. And now he has voices his opinions about WebRTC.

Martin Geddes has a great newsletter – if you are in the telecoms industry, make sure you subscribe to it. In his latest installment, he decided to look at WebRTC. His thoughts about WebRTC reflect my own, only in a better form – he puts ideas to words a lot better than I can.

Martin covers a lot of ground about WebRTC. My 3 main take aways?

No Signaling

In Martin’s own words:

There is no ‘WebNet’ for voice or video. WebRTC is the minimal set of functions necessary to enable adoption of voice and video, and learning of its new affordances.

No signaling means that WebRTC can be used for almost any type of a scenario you can think of, without complicating things due to signaling standards – just use whatever works for you – standardized or otherwise.

Martin attributes that to the experimental spirit of the internet – a connection I haven’t made but I really like.

My enemy’s enemy

OTT players are the real losers from WebRTC. As Martin phrases it:

If Skype and Viber are telephony’s real-time communications competition, WebRTC is your enemy’s enemy – since it lessens the need for these rival voice services. It should thus be considered a friend.

I have recently written about it on Vision Mobile, with the exact same opinion: WebRTC is an opportunity for telcos and a headache for OTT players.

The long road ahead

Martin sees WebRTC is a nice beginning, but something that is still immature – especially on the specification side:

The list of possible issues and incidents around inbound call notifications, feature interaction and privacy problems is long enough to ensure this is a technology for experimental use, not core production business services.

On this I disagree.

WebRTC may be immature and in experimental stages, but it will take little time until we start seeing it in real services – services people will be paying to use, and then it will just replace the OTT ecosystem and flip its market. The road ahead is long, but it isn’t a matter of more specification and plugging holes in the WebRTC standard – it is the issue of developing services and then improving them over time.

A year from now? Real services using WebRTC, and a lot of apps on mobile that will use it as a pure media engine.

2 to 3 years from now? Services running on both PC and mobile platforms seamlessly – with or without the assistance of the operating system vendors. It might not be the best quality possible, but it certainly will be the best overall solution out there.

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