How WebRTC Changed the Media Engine Market

June 27, 2013

One of the overlooked aspects of WebRTC is how it is changing the media engines market, reducing it to a commodity.

An old engine

The day Google acquired GIPS, my company at the time started receiving requests. It came from GIPS customers around the world, asking for a commercial replacement to GIPS. You see, large companies like to pay. Or more accurately, they like to have an SLA in place with someone. So the moment they saw they won’t be able to continue paying maintenance and asking for support from GIPS was the moment they searched for a replacement. It was probably a good day for the likes of SPIRIT-DSP, a direct GIPS competitor.

The day Google released WebRTC, the GIPS derivative, under a permissive open source license? That was the day the sky fell on the media engine vendors. Now you could simply get one of the best media engines on the market at the time for free.

The ramifications?

Here are 4 different examples of them:

SPIRIT-DSP

SPIRIT-DSP was THE direct competitor of GIPS. They had the most to gain from its acquisition, as it takes away a competitor, but they ended up being the most to lose.

I have no clue how good they are faring these days – I assume it is still business as usual for the most part. I also assume that their sales pipeline no longer include startup companies – these will handle the porting of WebRTC on their own.

SPIRIT-DSP took the public stance of FUD – essentially putting fear, uncertainly and doubt into their customers when it comes to adopting an open source media engine and going to the route of WebRTC.

Media5

Also known as Mediatrix or M5T is a provider of VoIP software stacks for endpoint development, focused around SIP. They have their own media solutions, probably from third parties, but now? Now they offer WebRTC based SIP clients as well.

The deal here is simple – they took WebRTC, ported it to whatever operating system is required, did the driver integration to wherever it was needed, and added the missing codecs to fit SIP solutions. So now you have a lot more voice codecs and video codecs in there – something that is required in the unmanageable world of SIP interoperability.

D2Tech

Like Media5, D2Tech is another company who dos VoIP software stacks for endpoint development. In December 201, they issued a press release: D2 Technologies to Discuss Impact of Browser-based Voice and Video Communication at WebRTC.

Half a year later, that’s the only indication on their website around WebRTC. I’d say this isn’t promising…

Their market is still there. You can still license RCS and VoLTE software stacks, but I wonder what market size and growth do such solutions see and expect to see moving forward.

There are companies out there who would probably like to see them providing WebRTC based clients as well.

Vonage

Vonage is an interesting story. Vonage provided wireline VoIP solutions up until recently, when they launched their mobile app.

For that, they used WebRTC, which enabled them to get two important features in very little time:

  1. Have a mobile solution to begin with
  2. Add video to their offering

To that end, they took WebRTC, ported it to Android and iOS, replaced the codecs there with the ones they needed… and launched the service.

Could they do it without WebRTC? Definitely.

Would it have taken them the same time? No. A lot more. And it would have cost more as well.

Here’s what Vonage had to say in the recent Meetup we had in Israel about WebRTC and its porting:

AudioCodes

AudioCodes just announced this week their support of WebRTC, calling it “WebRTC Phone“. In essence, the only thing they have done for their 400HD IP phone series is adding Opus voice codec. These IP phones already supported 5 voice codecs, so adding another one should have been a straightforward task.

The end result? Something that interoperates better with WebRTC without the need to transcode and maintains high voice quality. Expect to see more of these from the whole VoIP ecosystem. This is a good first step for AudioCodes, which shows that things can (and should) be done not only in the gateway side of the story.

Oh, and if you ask how they did it – I have no clue. My guess? They downloaded the WebRTC source code, took Opus from there and integrated into their own media engine.

Facebook?

There are rumors that Facebook has ported WebRTC to mobile to use it for their own mobile VoIP offering within their app in the US and the UK. If that is true, then this is a shift from their cooperation with Skype, where Facebook is taking matters into their own hands and building their own VoIP capabilities.

Doing it around WebRTC enables them to support it in HTML5 on the browser the moment they see fit, and supporting their native apps on mobile today.

Could they have done it without WebRTC? Sure, but at a prohibitive cost – something they preferred not to pursue – until WebRTC came.

The ways companies are approaching the challenges that media engines are solving is changing, and with it that small segment of the VoIP/UC market is changing as well.

It is but one of the ways WebRTC is disrupting communications.


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