Who is a WebRTC vendor?

September 9, 2013

The WebRTC ecosystem is becoming more complex, and I am having some hard times cracking it.

WebRTC is a technology and not a market, but it does seem to grow its own ecosystem and a rather interesting one. I touched this briefly on UC Strategies where I outlined the new TNW Academy, which uses LiveNinja – who in turn uses TokBox.

Ecosystem

There are many similar instances where vendors adopt WebRTC in one form or another, but it is not always easy to tell what the result is. Here are some interesting examples I am struggling with.

Joyent

Joyent is a cloud infrastructure vendor. Their direct and most obvious competitor is probably Amazon AWS. How are they related to WebRTC? I have no real clue, but their blog did promise they will be in the WebRTC Conference & Expo (they didn’t attend it as far as I remember). What it is they offer around WebRTC or plan to offer is a mystery to me.

It is also why I didn’t add them to my list of 220 WebRTC ecosystem vendors.

Fresh Tilled Soil

Fresh Tilled Soil is a web design company I had the opportunity to interview in the past. For them, WebRTC is just a technology to master in order to win more web development projects with customers. Seen in this light, a lot of WebRTC’s future services might be developed by similar companies.

Wello and LiveNinja

Both Wello and LiveNinja provide solutions to the expert market. The interesting thing here is that they both rely on other vendors that provide WebRTC infrastructure and APIs to build and run their service on a daily basis. Simply put, at the extreme, these vendors don’t need to think or care about WebRTC – just use the APIs defined and provided by a third party.

Are these WebRTC vendors? They seem like the second circle, but somehow they count in my book.

TNW Academy

Taking it to the extreme, TNW Academy runs their service on top of LiveNinja, who in turn run it on TokBox. We’re another step farther away from the original WebRTC APIs and specification.

Is that a WebRTC vendor? Hard to tell…

Vacasa Rentals

Vacasa Rentals is a vacation house rental company (here’s an interview). They don’t really care about WebRTC, besides the fact that they used it to implement their own internal solution. They took WebRTC and embedded it into their business processes, no third parties involved.

In a way they are a WebRTC vendor, but somehow the fact that they don’t use anyone else and don’t intend to sell the service in any way makes it hard for me to view them as a part of the “ecosystem”.

Codassium & OpenVRI

Codassium and OpenVRI. Both very interesting services whose developers/owners/writers I interviewed. The interesting thing here is that the services were developed and then opened up to the public without any real business plan attached and no real intention of making money out of it. Just people tinkering in their garage and building something that works.

Are these vendors or just developers? Hard to say.

Same question to ask about VIAVID.IO and probably tens of other similar “services” out there.

AudioCodes

Here’s a challenge for you. AudioCodes announced during the same WebRTC Conference the support of WebRTC in their products. How? By adding Opus voice codec support to their IP phones. Now, Opus can be used elsewhere and not in the context of WebRTC, and here it is used in SIP with no WebRTC anywhere. While they might add WebRTC to their product portfolio in the future, it isn’t the case today.

That said, in my book, they are a WebRTC vendor, as they are trying to add it to their story and doing that in a way that gives an advantage to both their ecosystem and to WebRTC users.

Vonage

Vonage have used WebRTC to build their mobile application and to jump from voice to video. At the end of the day, their solution runs over SIP and WebRTC is just the media framework used. The solution for Vonage was to port WebRTC to mobile and use it as a software stack that got modified to fit their needs – even the voice codec used there isn’t Opus.

Are they part of the WebRTC ecosystem or just free-riders of the fact that WebRTC uses a permissive BSD license? While this may seem just a matter of tactic on Vonage’s side, I think it is part of Google’s strategy in opening it up for such uses.

M5T

What about a VoIP stack vendor that just happen to use WebRTC as its media engine and license it? That’s what M5T is doing. Is this part of the WebRTC ecosystem or not?

Time for you to speak up your opinion – who is a WebRTC vendor?


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  1. Sites like Twelephone, Wello, LiveNinja, Codassium, OpenVRI, and Vacasa use WebRTC to deliver their services online. For the most part, WebRTC is a key differentiator for these services. In Twelephone’s case, our service would not be possible without WebRTC.

    In my mind, WebRTC vendors are companies selling WebRTC platforms and WebRTC-as-a-service. These companies include: Tropo, Twilio, TobBox, AddLive, VLine, and Xirsys.

    1. In a way, vLine provides a service with APIs. Twelephone has some APIs as well. To that end, so does Bistri and TenHands. LiveNinja has a customer who did development to integrate their platform into their learning experience (TNW Academy) – and they still ended up mentioning WebRTC.

      Not such an easy distinction. This isn’t a black and white situation at all.

  2. I think, Tsahi, that you are searching for a Grail that may not in fact be findable (or an Ark, to protocol translate). How would you define a “Web Vendor” these days? Every software company, and most tech-hardware companies, in existence today are doing something with the Web – in many ways at many levels, some more so, some less, some well, some badly. So everyone is a “Web vendor” in some way. With WebRTC gradually becoming “just” a part of the overall web technology stack, everybody will similarly become a ‘WebRTC vendor” likely to be using it in some way. Although it may be fuzzy, I do think that at various points in time (it can vary) one can distinguish between tool/platform providers who enable others and application providers who use various technologies to deliver some end-customer value. Chris makes this point too. The cloud language for this are the Iaas, Paas, Saas levels (and everyone will ultimately have part of their value in the cloud :)). Right now some vendors are fuzzy about which level they are on, but this is characteristic of an early market and they can be marked as “both/all” right now. Also, with cloud and embedded component models this may remain fuzzy for some vendors – as Chris says, Twelephone is an app I can use today but it may also be embedded as a component in another application. Ultimately, though, I think companies will have to pick their business model because marketing and GTM are very different between tools and application solutions.

  3. You could broaden the question and ask “which companies are HTML vendors?”

    In that context, I could argue that since Disruptive Analysis publishes a blog & website, using a hosting company & also Google’s blogger, it would fall into the same definition bucket as a firm such as Vacasa. I’m using HTML, sure – but I’m also using Qualcomm & Intel processors, and electricity & photons courtesy of some power companies and opto-electronics network vendors.

    So, I think there is a big difference between a WebRTC-enabled company, and one which actually sells/creates the underlying WebRTC enablers. As far as I can see, Wello et al are not themselves adding anything WebRTC-specific, or making WebRTC more usable by others.

    1. While I do agree with you Dean, I believe that WebRTC is so new that researching the reasons for someone like Vacasa or Wello and the way they decided to use (or not use) WebRTC is important to the understanding of the market.

      To that end, does LiveNinja qualify as a WebRTC vendor? They “add” nothing real on top of what TokBox already provides them with related to WebRTC – but still when you look at TNW Academy, part of their reasons for selecting LiveNinja is their WebRTC capabilities.

  4. I’m a developer and I see A lot of problems in WebRTC related to the multi browser support, in Italy I saw only Eudata that provides native support for all browser (WebRTC + Flash) and mobile devices. Did you see something similar in the market?
    Best

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