WebRTC Expert Feature

April 07, 2014

Where Are the Real WebRTC Apps?

One question I often hear is, “Where are the WebRTC apps?” On the surface, this is an interesting question, never mind that we are very early in the technology -- version 1 of the standards is not done --our natural impatience with the explosive change in technology requires us to ask almost immediately after hearing about something for the killer app.

The reality of WebRTC is, even though it is still in the standards process, there are a number of applications that have been rolled out that are base, either in part or whole, on WebRTC. The WebRTC World list includes more than 30 available applications and uses of WebRTC.  Some of those companies are delivering breakthrough experiences with WebRTC, but some are augmenting an existing solution with WebRTC.

Today I wanted to focus on one that is augmenting with WebRTC: UberConference.  UberConference is a next-generation voice/audio conferencing platform that is following a freemium business model.  The company offers a free audio conferencing service with up to five attendees (this can be grown by introducing UberConference to your friends), and a paid version with larger attendees and additional features for about $10 per month.

One of the features of UberConference is that you can use it with WebRTC, which not only eliminates the phone call and associated charges, but also uses a wideband codec.  I use UberConference for international conferences as I can tell the invitees to use the Web with WebRTC and we avoid the complexity of Skype. Last week I met with Craig Walker, UberConference CEO, and during the discussion he indicated that they are doing about 10 percent of their conference minutes in WebRTC, have about 60 employees now and are cash-neutral, reflecting their success and rapid growth.

While Walker did not go into any details about the company, a few things can be derived from the above data.  The fact that the company is cash-neutral and has about 60 employees suggests revenue of around $12M per year or about $1M per month ($200K per employee).  If 4 percent of the users are paying about $8 per month, that is 125K paying users and about 3.2M total users with 4 percent of total user paid (note that this may be slightly different depending on the actual percentages Craig did not reveal, the 4 percent is a typical freemium percentage). Assuming that at least 20 percent of those users are using WebRTC some of the time, that is more than 600K WebRTC users.

Another way to look at it is to calculate the savings of WebRTC. If 10 percent of the revenue is PSTN access costs, then the WebRTC is saving 10 percent of that, or 1 percent of revenue, or about $10K per month, or about $120K per year, while delivering a superior experience. As the WebRTC percentage grows, so will the contribution.

I think this illustrates what is happening in many ways with WebRTC.  While there are new exciting new applications that are WebRTC exclusive and are offering change, integrating WebRTC into existing applications and services has significant value as well, but is less obvious.  For the enterprise, this raises three key questions: Will your current applications extend to WebRTC and when? What applications and services should you adopt as WebRTC changes the model for your business? How will your organization manage WebRTC as the applications and services you use integrate it? In fact, your users may be trying to use WebRTC already and you were not even aware.  If they were invited to an UberConferecne and clicked the “Join with Your Computer,” they will use WebRTC.  And with Cisco recently demonstrating a WebRTC-based version of WebEX, the path to WebRTC use is becoming clear: The apps are here and growing already.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey


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