Real Time Communications Featured Article

Why the Phone is (and isn't) Phasing Out

December 21, 2015

The time in which we live is unparalleled; we no longer need a telephone to communicate with one another. The advent of smartphones, desktop applications, Internet telephony, and other mediums have provided non-traditional methods of communications that utilize some of the most fascinating technologies out there. With all of these new bells and whistles, is it the end of times for the tried and true telephone? The answer is yes and no.

The telephone, be it a smartphone, desktop softphone, or other handset will be around for a while. According to Forbes, while the hardware will remain for quite some time, the actual phone number you use might be on its way out. Solutions like WebRTC are quickly replacing the need to dial a number to reach a person; all you need is an Internet URL and an app that enables you to click to call.

WebRTC, a free, open-source project, enables compliant Web browsers to communicate in real-time using simple JavaScript APIs.

The project's mission: "To enable rich, high quality, real-time communication applications to be developed in the browser via simple JavaScript APIs and HTML5."

A big draw with WebRTC is the manner in which it's built right into browsers. Mobile platforms such as iOS started the drift away from plug-ins, but a future free from them has long been the goal of many Web standards advocates.

WebRTC goes beyond VoIP and video conferencing, with no plugins to download or install that may not be compatible with consumers’ browsers across desktop, mobile or tablet.

Imagine being able to shop online for a product and clicking on a product page where you can have a live video call with a customer service representative, who then shows you the gadget you are thinking of buying. That’s the power of WebRTC.

According to the Aberdeen Group, 100 percent of companies are using multiple channels to connect with consumers. Today’s landscape offers more than just the telephone in terms of reaching out; there’s social media, email, text campaigns, and now interactive Web sites that can do more than just offer a basic FAQ.

Image via Pixabay

That’s not to say we’ll see the phone phasing out any time soon. It simply means that it’s currently evolving to adapt to more modern communications applications. Also, it’s worth noting that while a great leap in telecom communications, WebRTC still has some growing to do. There are still browser limitations, like needing to keep URLs open to be able to receive calls, plus not all browsers are currently supported. Identity, security, and encryption are still points that need some work. Despite its current challenges, it’s still a remarkable tool that has catapulted us into the future.

There are many functions to WebRTC that are extremely useful to organizations, both big and small.  It’s still an untapped market, but one that holds tremendous promise, just don’t ditch the phone number yet.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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