Tsahi Levent-Levi invited me to the WebRTC meetup he organized as I happened to be in Israel, his summary of the event is here. My presentation is shown below, it was a quick review of what WebRTC offers, across telecoms, gaming, machine to machine, telematics, surveillance and monitoring, to embedding communications everywhere. I reviewed Dean Bubley’s analysis of the number of WebRTC capable devices, 1B by the end of this year and 3B by 2016. Provided a pragmatic review of some of the availability, interoperability, and IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) issues we’re seeing as the market moves from the ‘hype of potential’ to the ‘reality of making it work adequately for most people.’ Then focused on WebRTC’s impacts and opportunities. It was a fun and interactive session with lots of questions and discussions spanning the telecom and web worlds.
The next presentation provided a great review of what Vonage has been doing with WebRTC, especially because the Vonage client uses WebRTC, and is likely the most widely adopted app using WebRTC available today. Gil provided provided a good review of their development experiences as well as the challenges of building voice based applications, e.g. noise suppression and echo cancellation, and of course all the device integration issues.
Peer5 reviewed their simple WebRTC data sharing app using RTCDataChannel, Sharefest. Simply send someone a URL and they can download the content, peer-to-peer. WebRTC makes P2P (Peer to Peer) easy, its serveless, low cost, instant and fast. Pictures of your kids go between you and the grandparents without anyone mining that information for their gain. I remain shocked people happily let strangers use their family photos for personal gain, yet get up in arms over the NSA viewing the metadata of a few numbers to stop people getting murdered. Anyway, best not stray into what has become a ‘belief system’ for the ‘Fox News set.’
Back to Sharefest, p2p distribution using WebRTC, there’s no business model behind it at present, it’s a great example how simple it is to create new solutions to old problems and throw it out there to see what happens. But let’s remember WebRTC is just a bit of technology, like APIs. It’s NOT a platform, iOS and Android are platforms, that need big companies with deep pockets, a lot of smart motivated people, and an ecosystem of large companies to make those platforms happen. WebRTC like APIs is about complementing existing platforms not creating new ones, so let’s not get carried away on what WebRTC is going to do, as I’m seeing happen in the marketing echo-chamber of the online media
The Meetup was a great event, with lots of insightful discussions on the many application areas, and the many practical challenges we’re discovering in playing with WebRTC such as security and NAT (Network Address Translation) traversal. We could find the person to person voice and video communications application of WebRTC is actually one of the more minor applications of the technology. My thanks to Tsahi for the invitation to speak