WebRTC Winners and Losers

Mozilla, AT&T and Ericsson are demonstrating a Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) proof of concept at Mobile World Congress 2013. The demonstration uses Ericsson's Web Communication Gateway, the Mozilla Social API and WebRTC support in Firefox, and the AT&T API Platform to enable the Mozilla Firefox browser to sync with a user's existing phone number and provide calling services without any plugins to download.

WebRTC is an open Web framework that is being standardized by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and is intended to support communications functions such as voice,  video calls and text messaging using only a Web browser. It includes the fundamental building blocks for high quality communications on the web such as network, audio and video components used in voice and video chat applications.

And that probably provides all the information you might require to figure out why varous contestants might disagree about the value or role of WebRTC.

Among other things, WebRTC allows browser communication across browser brands.

As you might guess, observers disagree about the impact. As you might guess, there are ways WebRTC could develop that make it more useful for web developers than for telecom developers, which is another way of saying WebRTC could be more useful for web app providers than for communications providers.

One vision is that what gets created is “HTML5 with the ability to quickly add voice, video, chat and without the need for a browser plugin or extension,” notes Dan York. senior content strategist at the Internet Society.

The API originally was proposed proposed by Google, and is supported Mozilla and Opera, which might indicate some of the perspective on potential winners and losers.

Native video chat or video conferencing would likely be early applications for WebRTC, for example, since WebRTC would provide high quality, low delay, encrypted calls from one WebRTC browser to another, with no need for a plug-in. As you might guess, Microsoft has its own ideas about how to implement WebRTC, for that reason.

Gaming and social experiences are other areas where WebRTC could provide value.

There could be many winners and losers, ranging from equipment and technology suppliers to contestants in the advertising value chain. As often is the case with developing Web technologies, access providers benefit indirectly, or are potentially harmed.
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