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WebRTC: Are We There Yet?

For all the hype around WebRTC, many of you may routinely ask the question, "Are we there yet?" The answer, without doubt, is, "Yes."

... the list goes on and is growing.

Last week marked WebRTC Global Summit in London. This year, organizers coupled it with a TADhack event and Kranky Geek. My presentations there were about the history of WebRTC and suggestions on where are we headed.

It still strikes me as weird that some question the value of WebRTC today. They believe it isn't ready for prime time yet. I couldn't agree less.


WebRTC is here and it is here to stay. The events of the last half-year show WebRTC adoption by every sort of organization -- B2B, B2C, consumer-focused vendors, incumbents, and startups. Each is making its own interpretation of the technology and how to use it for its own needs.

To make the point clear, here are a few of the dominant market players and their recent moves.

AT&T launched its own take of WebRTC. In its current developer program, it added APIs to enable WebRTC. We can debate if these are useful or not, but having one of the largest telecom carriers in the world embrace WebRTC in such a way is what is important here.

Cisco has a lot to lose from WebRTC. It is one of the largest players in enterprise video conferencing today. It does telepresence. It has WebEx. It sells IP phones and PBXes to enterprises.

At last month's Enterprise Connect, it launched Cisco Spark, a messaging system that tries to redefine enterprise video conferencing and collaboration around cloud, mobility, Web, and messaging. And it uses WebRTC.

Will Microsoft add WebRTC to IE? Does it care? When will it add WebRTC to IE? These were the main questions in the past three years. It was also the excuse for not adopting WebRTC.

Well, at last month's Enterprise Connect, Zig Serafin, corporate VP, Skype Business Services, Microsoft, used the word "WebRTC" in his keynote to indicate what Skype is doing. Not ORTC. Not if. Not maybe. It might not be today, but expect Microsoft to embrace WebRTC wholeheartedly in both its browsers and its UC offerings.

Facebook launched WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger offerings. Both have WebRTC components in them.

WhatsApp uses WebRTC in its browser presence, although not as you may think. A recent analysis shows it has components from Google's WebRTC code, but not the whole shebang.

Facebook's Messenger on the Web is pure WebRTC, and the mobile version, which just got video, probably follows suite.

The largest social network of them all adopted WebRTC wholeheartedly.

Why Is It Important?
It is hard for me to stress the point of how important it is for vendors to analyze WebRTC and decide how to yield it. They need to do it in the scope of what their competitors and potential disruptors would be doing.

Oftentimes, I find companies leaving that decision to the R&D or research teams. It needs to be an initiative taken by the CTO or product management. WebRTC isn't a technical hurdle that needs to be dealt with. It is first and foremost a business issue.

Are you sure you are making the right decisions with WebRTC?