Some projects I just don’t understand. And this is one of them.
There is a new project that was just announced: WebRTC in WebKit. The vendors behind it are Ericsson and Temasys (there are a few more, but they are of less relevance to us here).
The idea? There’s this browser engine called WebKit. It is open source. And it WAS important (emphasis on WAS). Having WebRTC in that project, logic suggests, is a good thing.
And while it is, why go to the length of doing that at all?
WebKit, then and now
WebKit was once a popular open source browser engine. Browser engine means it was used to render HTML and CSS into visible pages.
What made it popular were the two vendors that used it:
- Apple for their Safari browser
- Google for their Chrome browser
That all changed in April 2013, when Google announced a new project called Blink. The reason? Progress faster in browser innovation without the need to maintain integrity of Apple related code.
And just in a Blink of an eye, WebKit is now used just by Apple for Safari and no one else.
Apple, WebKit and WebRTC
Now that WebKit is rather synonymous with Apple and Safari, what’s the point in vendors other than Apple investing the time and effort of adding WebRTC into it? This goes right in the fact of the logic of browser vendors being the only important decision makers. To me, that’s like fighting windmills.
Let’s be frank here.
Apple is the most profitable company in the world.
They can easily invest the money, time and resources required to add WebRTC into WebKit.
If they choose to do so.
And if they decide not to, then who on earth can force them or entice them to make that decision?
Ericsson and WebRTC in WebKit
Ericsson. What do they need this for?
I’ve asked that same question about the OpenWebRTC initiative.
While I think I had good answers about OpenWebRTC for Ericsson, I am clueless here.
What do they expect to gain by this pet project? Making friends with Apple?
Temasys and WebRTC in WebKit
For Temasys that may well be the migration from Google’s WebRTC stack to Ericsson’s OpenWebRTC one.
They are a WebRTC PaaS vendor, with a touch of unbundling (their WebRTC plugin). Working on an open project where the words WebRTC, Apple and Temasys appear in the same sentence can lure VCs to invest money. As a startup, that has value.
On the other hand, can Temasys really spare the manpower and focus from their real offering towards this school project? Do they stand to gain anything besides the name Apple, and even that a long shot of sorts?
Getting WebRTC to work on iOS
If the point of this exercise is to get WebRTC to work for people who use iOS, then this train has left the station already.
- WebRTC is portable to iOS
- Vendors have been using WebRTC on iOS since 2012
- Adoption of WebRTC on iOS in 2014 has increased considerably
Granted, that adoption happens inside an app and not in the browser, but think about these facts:
- Most use cases today on mobile are app based anyway
- Until Apple decides to add WebRTC to Safari on iOS, no hooplah will help any company (be it Ericsson, Temasys or other) get WebRTC inside iOS’ Safari browser
To make a long story short, WebRTC in WebKit doesn’t help iOS developers.
Why is this important?
Unless there’s some secretive deal with Apple here – It isn’t important. And that’s the whole point of it.
There are many projects using WebRTC, adopting it, trying to get in the limelight of it. Similar to the branding of projects and products around IOT or Big Data. It gains attention.
If what you do is trying to build stuff with WebRTC, better know what matters. And what doesn’t.
Download the WebRTC Device Cheat Sheet to learn more on how to get WebRTC to as many devices and environments as possible.