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5 Reasons to Be Thankful for WebRTC

November 24, 2014

It has been an exciting year in the WebRTC world.  The pace of innovations and announcements have been stunning over the past three months, with major names putting their clout behind WebRTC as a standard means for delivering voice and video both inside the browser and via mobile apps on Google Android and Apple iOS.  Here are five reasons to give thanks for WebRTC progress in 2014 in no particular order.  People shouldn't try to get bragging rights within the sequencing.

1) Microsoft for (finally) committing to WebRTC in Internet Explorer (IE) and across its other IP communications products, including Skype and Skype for Business.  With Skype for Web out this week and Microsoft wanting to demonstrate via deeds, not words, it is a "cloud first, mobile first" company, WebRTC provides a universal bridge for delivering voice and video between legacy platforms and newer, app-based solutions.   Look for Microsoft to offer a couple of WebRTC surprises in 2015, as they look for new ways to get consumers and businesses invested in -- and paying for -- Azure cloud services.

2) Adapting H.264 as a mandatory video codec for WebRTC. The battle between H.264 and VP8 is no longer an either/or; both codecs have to be implemented.  Cisco laid the groundwork for H.264 adoption last year by releasing its OpenH264 code as open source.  The hard truth is there are a lot of legacy H.264 video end-points plus any number of software clients.  Enterprise customers -- and that's what H.264 is all about at the end of the day -- needed some backwards compatibility with existing video solutions.  Open source H.264 support provides an affordable, economic bridge between the enterprise boardroom and mobile solutions.

3) Cisco-Mozilla collaboration.   Mozilla was one of the earlier leaders in WebRTC and has worked with Cisco to implement and demonstrate H.264 support in the Firefox browser.   It is clear that Mozilla wants to chart a path independent from Google while Cisco needed H.264 support for the enterprise.  How this works out over the long run is unclear, but someone has to balance out Google's urges and philosophers for the greater good of the tech community. 

4) GENBAND Kandy WebRTC software development platform.  There are a lot of WebRTC service offerings (do we call them Waas?), but GENBAND may be one of few that provides carrier-grade quality and scalability. Available for free trial and development, Kandy provides pre-built widgets, example code and APIs so you can add voice and video to an HTML 5 web page or mobile app in under 5 minutes, and a "pay as you grow" scalable platform.  Bonuses include access to GENBAND's NUViA cloud services for access to the PSTN and other perks.

5) Numerous name brands announcing WebRTC projects and support onboard in 2014. Ericsson, IBM, SAP, Samsung, and Tech Mahindra all have put their weight into WebRTC projects and products.  Ericsson released its Bowser browser and OpenWebRTC framework as open source, giving Apple users native browser access to WebRTC. IBM has been pretty savvy over the decades in picking up on technology trends; its vision is to marry WebRTC with the Internet of Things (IoT).  SAP is incorporating WebRTC into its customer relationship management (CRM) and field service software, adding new levels of interaction and functionality, while Samsung has demonstrated WebRTC as a key technology in its "Smart Health" approach.

With the last 90 days of announcements, WebRTC support is starting to snowball.  It's not unreasonable to think Apple will provide WebRTC support sometime in 2015 and we might see Microsoft get into the WebRTC service business in the next twelve months.   

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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