What's Next for WebRTC

Top of Mind

What's Next for WebRTC

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  May 12, 2014

WebRTC has become such an important new area of communications that INTERNET TELEPHONY this issue added a new standing column on this topic.

The column comes courtesy of Phil Edholm (News - Alert), president and founder of PKE Consulting LLC. Edholm is a TMC partner who works with INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine’s parent company to stage the WebRTC Conference & Expo, which will be held next time from June 17 to 19 in Atlanta.

WebRTC Conference & Expo is one of industry’s most rockin’ events. The most recent event drew more than 800 attendees from 294 companies, 590 social media mentions, 74 sponsors, and 50 exhibitors. And we expect it to continue growing.

The June 17 to 19 event in Atlanta will feature keynotes from such industry leaders as Avaya, Dialogic, Genband, Google (News - Alert), Requestec, Saypage, Temasys, TokBox, and Vidyo.  

Speaking of ToxBox, the company recently surveyed more than 1,000 professionals about their current or planned use of WebRTC technology. Of those surveyed,

77 percent said they are working on a real-time communications application. Meanwhile,

88 percent responded that they consider WebRTC to be increasingly important or already critical to their current work. About 80 percent suggested they plan to increase their WebRTC usage, while 60 percent said they plan to decrease Flash usage. Among the

top applications for WebRTC, according to the survey, are videoconferencing, telecommunications, customer service, education, health care and telemedicine.

Dean Bubley (News - Alert) of Disruptive Analysis, which recently came out with new data on WebRTC, reports that devices forecast to support WebRTC at the end of 2014 have been reduced from 1.7 billion to 1.6 billion; devices expected to support WebRTC by the end of 2016 have increased from 4.2 billion to 4.7 billion; the mix of devices supporting WebRTC has skewed toward mobile from PC, and from browser-based to non-browser-based; and that there will be an estimated 1.8 billion active WebRTC end users (individuals) by the end of 2016.

In a March blog Bubley wrote that there’s a new trend toward non-browser WebRTC, especially on mobile devices. This trend relates to the recent Tuenti and WeCom launches in March, he said, as well as the recent American Express (News - Alert) video chat iPad app and Amazon Mayday button.

“These developments reflect both positives and negatives about WebRTC's evolution. At one level, there are issues with the lack of IE/Safari support, and continued debate over video codecs. Security and firewall/network middle-box traversal (in some instances) remain issues being addressed by IETF,” Bubley wrote. “But what offsets these problems is the large and growing emphasis on getting on with it anyway, in pre-standard form, and often using cloud platforms and third-party SDKs to embed WebRTC into mobile apps, standalone PC applications and yes, even plug-ins. This is inevitably slowing down some use-cases, while speeding up others.”

Bubley adds that by the end of 2014, a large percent of new Android (News - Alert) devices will be WebRTC-enabled out of the box, some in multiple different ways.

Beyond just looking at the number of devices or individuals using or expected to use WebRTC is the larger picture of what it means, of course. As Edholm writes in his inaugural WebRTC column this month: “The webification of communications is not a single technology, but rather a transformation of the basics of communications. Instead of having a single server that manages all of my communications, the webification process will free me to interact directly with millions of web servers to manage a succession of independent communications events, each tuned to the specific needs and requirements of the event, not an arbitrary vendor paradigm. Just as we all have hundreds of different web information experiences monthly, each web communications experience can be defined by the suite hosting the event.” 

Edited by Maurice Nagle