Exactly how many WebRTC devices will be in place and in use by 2020 is a constantly moving target. The beginning-year predictions out of Disruptive Analysis said there would be 6.7 billion WebRTC-supporting devices by 2019. Back in 2013, ABI Research put down a marker for 4.7 billion mobile WebRTC devices by 2018 -- that's JUST mobile, mind you, an easy enough number to believe or disprove, depending on the number of smartphones and tablets you believe will be in circulation three years from now. Regardless, we're talking big numbers and big promises.
There are around 200 commercially available WebRTC solutions either announced or available at this moment, depending on which analysts you talk to on any given week. AT&T jumped into the WebRTC game earlier this year while Microsoft will natively support WebRTC within Windows 10 and its shiny new Spartan browser coming sometime this summer. Apple continues to be the major name-brand holdout in supporting WebRTC, perhaps all the more remarkable given how often they change connectors on their hardware.
Call centers and customer service continues to be the number one areas of discussion for WebRTC apps and implementation. Last year, the discussion was around how fast and quickly you can use tools such as GENBAND's Kandy Platform as a Service (PaaS) to plug in voice, video, and IM into existing call center applications, enabling real time communication for technical support, billing issues, and virtual concierge services to provide a customized and more intimate online sales experience. We'll see more discussion of the call center and customer care applications at WebRTC Expo in Miami next month.
Out of Enterprise Connect last month, the Unified Communications (UC) crowd started to experience some fear, loathing and bandwagoning for WebRTC. Every vendor wants to have a WebRTC play since it is the new hotness, so everyone is looking to say they are WebRTC compatible or will be there real soon. The fear and loathing come into play with speculation that WebRTC rolled into new wave enterprise workplace IM-based messaging services such as Slack will essentially kill the need for expensive UC solutions currently touted as necessary for the corporate market.
More on this topic will be covered during WebRTC World Conference & Expo next month.
Make no mistake, existing UC vendors are losing some sleep trying to figure how WebRTC fits into their product roadmaps and ways to avoid being made obsolete in a world where the browser -- not their per seat or site licensed software clients -- holds the keys to real time communications and collaboration. Expect to see a lot of spin and churn, with any UC vendor that hasn't yet made the move to a cloud service going there quickly on the back of WebRTC as the technology to get them there more quickly.
Teleheath is picking up steam. Telstra -- yes, the Australian Tier 1 carrier -- last week launched an integrated e-Health system called MyCareManager. The company has invested around $78 million to unlock a "disproportionate" opportunity to "significantly impact" the heath system, according to a company official.
Included within MyCareManager is WebRTC-based video conferencing, Bluetooth-enabled telemonitoring (Hello, Internet of Things), and an integration engine pulling everything from care plans to medication lists and service schedules. The solution is designed to be integrated with other clinical information systems, so Telstra will be able to white-label it for use with other providers, as well as offer it as a stand-alone solution through existing organizations and via a self-service portal.
There are a number of areas where WebRTC could save real costs in health care as well as improve outcomes. Being able to conduct a virtual housecall becomes an off-the-shelf experience with a tablet, desktop computer or even a smart phone, with the ability to conduct an initial assessment, provide follow-up consultations and clarify instructions between doctor and patient. Already the city of Houston is piloting a program where firefighters "carry along" a doctor for a telemedical consult. Non-critical patients are directed to a primary care clinic, rather than tying up an ambulance and racking up an expensive emergency room bill. Houston could save up to $2 million per year by cutting the number of unnecessary ambulance and ER runs through telemedical consults via tablet.