WebRTC is here to stay
WebRTC is a standard for communication between browsers and I believe that it has all chances to become a breakthrough technology not only in web communication, but in general communication as well. This technology allows making video calls between almost any devices that have web browser. In this case such apps as Skype will become unnecessary. The web sites themselves will become the main means of contact with site owners – for example, you’ll need just to press a button and will be connected to a sales manager of an online shop.
WebRTC (Real-Time Communication) is a project with an open source code which is intended for data streaming between browsers and other apps supporting it using the peer-to-peer technology. The original developer of this technology is Google and today WebRTC is supported by Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Yandex. Other browsers require the use of an additional extension webrtc4all.
First serious mentions about WebRTC were detected in summer 2012, when Microsoft began recruiting developers for creating a browser version of Skype. The descriptions of the vacancies included the requirements for WebRTC. It became clear that Microsoft considered WebRTC to be a threat for Skype and was trying to pursue a preemptive tactic of introducing a possibility to make direct calls from a browser to Skype and vice versa. And it’s quite natural intention, considering the large number of Skype users that may be lost while migrating to new communication standards.
Meanwhile, WebRTC technology slow and sure improves its positions at the market. In January, 2013, a service called Twelephone appeared. It is a Chrome extension which allows a Twitter user to call other users which have the same extension installed. In February, 2013, the first video call between Firefox and Chrome browsers was made. What is more, annual conference dedicated to WebRTC achievements is held annually in Santa Clara, USA.
But in general WebRTC is still a new and pretty experimental technology. It surely requires certain improvements and standardization. But it’s already clear, that WebRTC will put pressure on the market of classic telephony, which includes a lot of money.
Firstly, classic telephony already feels serious competition from cheaper and more quality VOIP services, such as Skype and Viber, for example. Secondly, WebRTC is second to none in terms of contextualization. A lot of modern phone services offer contextualization as one of the functions or additions. But its realization requires works on API-interfaces integration. In this situation WebRTC has a huge advantage as it provides a lot easier contextualization of a voice into a web interface. Thirdly, the tendencies in the telephone communication imply the migration to the “voice and image” standard. In such case WebRTC is several steps ahead of traditional voice communication technologies, again in terms of contextualization. And in the fourth place, we need to take into consideration the tendency of replacing regular call with short messages and Internet messengers, especially when a user needs to send a small piece of information (for example, to inform about being late or to order a taxi). In other words, pretty often users prefer texting instead of calling. And here WebRTC technology also has a competitive edge over other means of communication.
Until completely developed, WebRTC will hardly replace traditional telephony and VOIP services. I think that at first this technology will be mostly used as “social” voice communication, because it doesn’t use any telephone numbers. But it has a lot of potential and can occupy a large share of communication market in the nearest future and there're already some WebRTC developers ready to implement this technology into existing online business.
The history of communication technologies already knows such examples – the wide spread of Skype back in 2004-2005 was a real shock for providers. At that time the introduction of new laws to limit Skype was seriously considered. But the progress doesn’t stand still. And this may be the case for WebRTC as well.