WebRTC Expert Feature

November 13, 2013

Even The King's Cobbler Has a Shoemaker's Son

I tried to reach out to Google Ventures with a request that someone from its team act as a judge for the WebRTC Conference & Expo demos. Though happy to be seen as the cool kids on the block, in theory, Google wants to work with everyone. However, knowing that, I have to say its inbound methodology is corporately atrocious and personally spotty. Naturally, I can understand the cool kids wanting to play hard to get. Someone, however, should at least answer the phone when it rings, particularly when you are an advocate for people talking via mobile (Android), landline (Google Phone), and the Web (Google Talk). 

You will notice that I did not mention WebRTC, nor did I cite Google Hangouts or Google Helpouts (which are not WebRTC).

So back to my efforts to reach Google by phone. The company’s auto attendant offers callers dial-by-name capability, and given Goog411 and my ‘droid’s speech recognition functionality I thought this would be pretty cool. Big disappointment. I pressed “8” to activate the feature, only to hear from the attendant that it was no longer available. Shouldn’t the initial announcement have been fixed to circumvent the need for the message shared after “8”? 

When it comes to customer care, I have known Google to show a distinct lack of focus (in the past, Google delegated responsibility for a Google phone I carried to the device vendor, and with the Google phone it shunted me over to the service provider serving as the gateway), and this even seems to carry over to its own internal systems. After all, isn’t it just logical that the No. 1 search company could create a directory service that can connect a call to the right person? Of course, this is right in line with the company’s reputation for its attentiveness to such email addresses as [email protected], which seems to most of the trade press to be completely unmanned.

Originally I was going to write about the idea of marrying WebRTC with blogs to create your own visual auto attendant. WebRTC offers scripting tools that have been able to do this in the past, and I think it will eventually be as common as WebRTC-enabled Google Adwords. My frustration at my inability to reach Google personnel, though, makes it quite clear that the shoemaker is neglecting its offspring. Now, Google has every right to behave in this manner, however, at the start of every project (e.g., Google Reader, Google Wave) it sure would nice of the company to provide an exit strategy for the rest of us, too.

I know of one company that intended to live and die supporting Google, but the reality is that everything it does can change quickly and without warning. Microsoft has had the opposite problem of dragging its enterprise and legacy customers down kicking and screaming, whereas Apple makes obsolete so uncool that if you are more than one generation back, you have to hide your gear to avoid public ridicule.

WebRTC has done a lot to re-energize the community. The question now has to be, though, what happens if the codec war stays unsettled? It sure would be nice to see Google put some shoes on WebRTC and make it a part of its other services, or even better, use the technology itself for improving its customer care.

Want to learn more about the latest in WebRTC? Be sure to attend WebRTC Conference & Expo, Nov. 19-21 in Santa Clara, Calif. Stay in touch with everything happening at WebRTC Conference & Expo. Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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