Where are we with WebRTC?

April 28, 2016

Progressing nicely – of course.

Checking the pulse of WebRTC
Checking the pulse of WebRTC

It’s been 5 years since WebRTC came to our lives. Different people count it from different times. I heard in the last month or two the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 stated as the year of birth of WebRTC. While no one should really care, for me, WebRTC started with Google’s announcement of WebRTC in May 2011. It was the first time Google publicly stated its plans for its GIPS acquisition, and it came out as an open source package that was planned to get integrated into browsers and be called WebRTC. I was a CTO at a business unit licensing VoIP products to developers. The moment I saw it, I knew everything was going to change. It was one of the main reasons I left that job, and got to where I am today, so it certainly changed everything for me.

As we head towards Mat of 2016, it is time to look a bit at the 5 years that passed – or more accurately the 5th year of WebRTC.

One one hand, it seems that nothing changed. A year ago, Chrome and Firefox supported WebRTC. That’s on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and Android. Today, we’re pretty much in the same position.

On the other hand, adoption of WebRTC is huge and its impact on markets is profound; oh – and both Microsoft and Apple seem to be warming up to the idea of WebRTC – each in his own way.

If you are interested in a good visual, then my WebRTC infographic from December 2015 is what you’re looking for. If it is numbers and trends today, then read on.

951 Vendors and Project – and growing

I’ve been tracking the vendors and projects of WebRTC since 2013, actively looking for them and handpicking relevant projects that are more than 10 lines of code and any vendor I saw. It turned into one of the services I have on offer.

Earlier this month, the WebRTC dataset had the following interesting numbers:

  • 951 vendors and projects that I track
    • There are a few that shutdown throughout the years, but not many
    • There are a few that I know of and don’t make it into the list, because they want to remain private at this point
    • There are data points I’ve stored and haven’t processed yet – many of them additional vendors (got around 80 in my backlog at the moment)
  • 2015’s average was 26 vendors added every month
  • 2016 shows a slight increase to that average. 3-4 months aren’t enough to make this definitve yet
  • For now, there are 41 acquisitions related to WebRTC in one way or another
    • Some of them are less relevant, such as Mitel acquiring Polycom
    • Others are all about WebRTC, such as Talko’s acquisition by Microsoft

What is interesting is that these vendors and projects are always evolving. They aren’t only limited to startups or large enterprises. They aren’t specific to a certain vertical. They cut through whole industries. Just this week a new use cases popped – movers who can give a price quote without being on site. Will it fly? Who knows.

We’ve been witnessing a surge in communication services. We are not limited today by concepts of Telephony or Unified Communications. These became use cases within a larger market.

What is different now is that the new projects and vendors don’t come with VoIP pedigree. They are no longer VoIP people who decided to do something with WebRTC. Most of them are experts in communications – not digital communications, but communications within their own market niche. Check out the interview from last week with Lori Van Deloo of BancSpace – she knows her way in banking.

API Platforms are Maturing

Communication API platforms using WebRTC are maturing. Many of them have the basics covered and are moving further – either vertically or horizontally. Vertically by deepening their support of a specific capability or horizontally by adding more communication means. You can read my WebRTC API report on it. I am in the process of updaing it.

What is interesting is how this space is being threatened from two different domains:

  1. Unified Communication platforms turned Enterprise Messaging turned developer ecosystems. Cisco Spark and Unify’s Circuit are such examples. They are an enterprise UC solution that can be used (and is actively being marketed as) a long tail development platform for general communication needs
  2. Specialized component vendors who are offering widgetized approach of their service, enabling its integration elsewhere. Gruveo, appear.in (now whereby) and Veeting do it a lot; Drum ShareAnywhere and a lot of others are also examples of it

This is affecting the decision making process of those who need to roll out their own services, making the technology more accessible, but at the same time more complex and confusing when the time comes to pick a vendor to lean on.

Verticals are Fragmenting Further

What does a communication solution in healthcare looks like?

If you ask a Unified Communications vendor, it will be able having a room system everywhere and enabling doctors/nurses/patients communicate.

I had conversations with these types of health related vendors:

  • Contact centers for doctor visitations of a healthcare insurer
  • IOT measurement device a user takes home, connects to the phone and from there to a doctor
  • Online group treatment
  • Serving rural areas from an established hospital in developing countries
  • Assisting/learning/teaching/participating in remote surgery
  • Medical tourism
  • Counseling for enterprise employees
  • Care for seniors
  • Secure messaging for doctors
  • Medical clowns
  • Fitness related

Each of these is a world unto its own, and to think we’ve looked at them all through the prism of Unified Communications or even the “healthcare vertical”.

WebRTC brought with it the ability to hone in on specific market needs.

WebRTC is already ubiquitous. As with any technology, its has its rough edges and challenges.

I’ve dealt with developing VoIP products for the better part of the last two decades – I can tell you hands down that never before did we have the alternatives to do what we can today. If you have VoIP on your mind, then WebRTC should be the first thing to try out as a component in your solution.

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Two years of WebRTC Insights

Two years of WebRTC Insights

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      1. Both share a common investor/ stakeholder.

        Hence this move could be more of as a business streamline to dominate market (unified/ enterprise communication) as a one big player. In financial terms, I dont think so any of them had any issues.

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