Telcos will suffer because of “subscription myopia”. WebRTC & WiFi don’t need subs | Dean Bubley’s Disruptive Wireless

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I’ve been thinking a lot about WebRTC recently. How and where it will become important, and what it might do to our concepts of voice/video communications and the existing telecom value chain.


It’s still very early days, but the momentum and details suggest that it will be of incredibly high importance. There are certainly complexities – not least of which is Apple not yet revealing its intentions – but overall the general premise “feels” right. There are no obvious irreversible “gotchas”, and there are plenty of interesting use-cases, and a whole plethora of innovators from both small and large companies alike.


This is diametrically opposite to things like NFC payments or RCS, for which there are plenty of hard, easily-described and unfixable flaws in the basic concept, and where support and innovation are thin.


WebRTC fits well with the idea that much of what we consider as communications “services” are in fact just “applications”, and increasingly drifting further down to become “features” and eventually “functions”. Messaging is already a long way down that curve – IM chat inside apps such as Facebook or Yammer or Bloomberg are not “services”, any more than the bold type button is a service. They just send words from A to B, rather than highlight them on the page.


WebRTC extends that metaphor to spoken words or visual images. They will just be sent via a browser or web widget (obviously needing access to camera, microphone, codecs & acoustic processing). It is already possible to have direct browser-to-browser conversations without plug-in or downloaded applications on the desktop. Massmarket versions of Chrome, Firefox and IE are all likely to support WebRTC during 2013, with a steady move onto mobile over the next couple of years.

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