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June 13, 2013

WebRTC Does Change Everything

Research firm Disruptive Analysis is known for its contrarian perspective when it comes to telecom trends, but even it can’t rain on the WebRTC parade.

The firm’s WebRTC market forecast in February said it all: The hype is justified; WebRTC will change the face of the telecom world.

That’s because WebRTC makes real-time communication so easy for websites and apps to leverage, it moves voice and chat away from standalone services and moves them toward being features that are rolled into other products.

WebRTC is delivering “an acceleration of the shift towards communications being seen as a feature in the context of other applications or sites, rather than as a service in its own right,” said Dean Bubley, founder of Disruptive Analysis. “We already see a move away from standalone ‘phone calls’ towards other modalities of voice/video communications, and WebRTC will magnify that trend.”

Consumers are accustomed to seeing new features appear in their Web browsers, from streaming video, scrolling timelines and auto-completing forms to in-page IM chats, according to Disruptive Analysis. Soon WebRTC will start cropping up in all sorts of different websites – and also in hybrid native/Web apps on our smartphones and tablets.

 The next evolution is real-time, high-quality, voice and video communication. It will extend beyond standalone calls that are typical of today’s VoIP services and telephony, according to the company. The bare-bones, flexible nature of WebRTC means that developers will not be constrained by the user interaction types or business models or the past.

“In the future, I am likely to be migrating a proportion of my client contact and wider industry engagement to WebRTC rather than using conventional VoIP and conferencing/webcast tools,” Bubley admitted.

 Disruptive Analysis predicts that telecoms will add Web access, for example for IMS access from the browser. Real-time voice and video communications added to the Web inside social networks, or allowing informal “call centre” functions on normal websites, also will become common.

What impresses Bubley and Disruptive Analysis the most is the sheer speed of development in the WebRTC space. Creative prototypes, demos and early commercial offers are appearing even before the standards are finalized, and problems are being resolved in weeks rather than years.

Bubley’s forecasts show that there will be almost four billion devices supporting WebRTC by the end of 2016, and he said there probably will be close to 1.5 billion individual active users worldwide by then.

 Bubley will be speaking at this year’s WebRTC Conference & Expo, which will be held in Atlanta this June 25-27.

Edited by Alisen Downey
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