WebRTC World Feature Article

August 21, 2014

Has Rabbit Just Made Video Chat A Whole Lot Simpler?

It's easily one of the biggest applications when it comes to Web-based real time communications (WebRTC), and for most, it's one of the only reasons to even take an interest in the first place. More specifically, it's real-time video chatting, and it's the idea that's captured a lot of imaginations. But one company, Rabbit, thinks it may have found a solution to one of the biggest problems in video chatting, and it's all thanks to WebRTC.

Rabbit started its life as a Mac desktop tool back in 2013, but only recently relaunched as a newly-retooled, video chat application designed to be run from within a desktop. Designed as a means to replicate a simple party experience online, Rabbit offers the ability for as many as 10 users to step into a browser-based chat system, and in the process, share a variety of content from within the application, from video to documents and beyond. Rabbit users can perform a variety of activities, from watching video on Hulu and Netflix to working on a document in Google Docs, all from the browser. The app works with several different browsers, with Chrome and Opera already in play, followed by versions for Firefox, Internet Explorer and Apple's Safari, with mobile versions for Android and iOS set to arrive in early 2015, a positive development for those interested in keeping in touch with small numbers easily.

So why did Rabbit go from an Apple desktop app to a simple browser-based model? The answer is fairly simple; back when it was an Apple tool, users reportedly enjoyed the idea that Rabbit was bringing out—to be able to share a variety of online experiences with friends—but didn't like the “friction” associated with it. The need to download an app, get the required plugins and all the other things to make it work was cumbersome, though the rewards worthwhile. With the new Rabbit, meanwhile, all the “friction” is gone. No more plugins, no more downloads, and all because of WebRTC, which now powers the Rabbit app.

Beyond this, Rabbit has plans to show up in other places, as well, becoming essentially the new comments section. Reading an article online often leads to the desire to discuss same, but instead of just leaving a line or two on a page, a user might well be able to join a small Rabbit chat already in progress, a move that should prove profitable for site owners as well as length of stay increases, as does engagement, which both in turn fuel value for advertisers.

Will it work quite that well? It's likely that it won't, as many comments sections have a tendency to devolve into shouting matches. But as time goes on, it might well be that such commenters would police the community unaided, and simply ignore those who don't play well with others, so to speak. The old philosophy of not feeding trolls may well come in handy here, and that could have a positive result.

But either way, what's clear is that not only has Rabbit come a long way in a short time, it has also made a real name for itself thanks to its use of WebRTC. Rabbit likely won't be the last app to put such tools to work, and it's likely only a matter of time before more tools put this new system to work in apps similar to Rabbit, and beyond.

Edited by Maurice Nagle


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