WebRTC Expert Feature

November 27, 2013

A Look Back at WebRTC Conference & Expo III

With last week's WebRTC Conference and Expo in Santa Clara, California coming to a successful conclusion, the second big WebRTC event of the year is now behind us.  Sure, there are other WebRTC-related conferences - the IIT RTC conference in Chicago, the WebRTC Summit at Cloud Expo, next month's WebRTC 2013 conference in Paris - but with around 700 people in attendance, the twice-annual WebRTC Conference and Expo is the big one.

A few days on we have been reflecting on just how far the industry, and this conference, have come in a few short years.

The biggest takeaways from the conference came in what we heard from attendees, be they enterprise customers, telcos, analysts or fellow vendors:

At this conference, people knew why they were interested in WebRTC.  Earlier this year in Atlanta, people were still trying to figure out where WebRTC fit in the landscape.  This is a huge step forward for the industry.

It was clear that there is real hunger for a WebRTC archiving solution.  Everyone, from Google to the analysts, was really excited that we brought this to the WebRTC party, and that we are already putting it into the hands of customers through a beta program.

People are familiar with the basics of WebRTC.  Conversations are now starting to address subtleties of use cases, or implications of technology corner cases, both of which are up a level from the basics.  A year ago, people were figuring out that WebRTC lets you put live video into a browser.  This year, people were asking us if our dynamic frame rate capability interfered with recorded video quality for our archiving capability (answer:  no, it doesn't).

image via shutterstock 

There was a general understanding that WebRTC needs to work in mobile contexts.  This was a huge part of our keynote message - highlighting not just the need but the work we have been doing in this regard - and it was good to see this resonate across all communities attending, both in conference content and in conversations.

We are starting to see vendor evolution in the space already.  Some small vendors present at WebRTC Expo in Atlanta mid-year were already gone from this conference, no doubt victims of bad timing and financial pressure.  Larger players increased their presence and their commitment.  For the first time, traditional communications or infrastructure players started to show up in volume, trying to demonstrate their relevance to this quickly evolving space.  Depending on the company, sometimes it was difficult to tell smokescreen from real substance.

There is a continuing bifurcation between WebRTC-centric offerings, which are trying to carve out new markets and new use cases on the basis of the new standard, and WebRTC interoperability offerings, which are using WebRTC as an endpoint to a traditional infrastructure.  While there is undoubtedly real value to some of these interoperability plays, watching some of their spokespeople struggle to make a relevant case to a pretty astute audience was a little like watching someone paint lipstick on a pig.

The market is growing.  By far the most important takeaway from the conference is that this is a vibrant, growing market.  The market is still very early by many metrics, but is rife with interesting use cases, and pregnant with potential.  Over the coming twelve months, it is clear that the market will start to converge on the first set of big winners, reinforcing the players that will matter.

It was a particularly rewarding week for TokBox as we not only released a series of major enhancements to our OpenTok video platform, we also had the honor of delivering the opening keynote, and also were awarded the coveted Best In Show award.

Now, with the conference behind us, the work is still just beginning.  As an industry we are all continuing to push the state of WebRTC forward, working hand in hand with the major browser vendors and with the standard committee itself.  From our perspective, we look forward to helping customers deliver enterprise-grade commercial applications incorporating WebRTC video and through those apps, to bringing the best possible live video experience to end users everywhere.

Edited by Ryan Sartor
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