WebRTC…. Voice Communication’s Next (Web) Frontier?

I finished my last blog of 2013 with an invitation to check out my next blog on WebRTC, a potential game-changer in voice communication, particularly on the web. Simply put, WebRTC creates a standard set of tools for voice communication to be incorporated into any browser or mobile App as a button. And Juniper Research contends that its impact will be far-reaching. The WebRTC website has the following to say: “WebRTC is a free, open project that enables web browsers with Real-Time Communications (RTC) capabilities […] via simple JavaScript an HTML 5.” So far so… well, dry. But if you set aside the technical aspects of Web RTC and think of the services that it will support it could be quite exciting. Essentially Web RTC allows for the ability to call or video conference from the web, without recourse to plugins and proprietary software. This will allow competent web developers without specialist knowledge to incorporate voice calling into websites, whether mobile or fixed. So what are the potential uses? Well, eCommerce could benefit from the immediacy that WebRTC potentially lends to the eCommerce transaction, allowing interested consumers direct access to a sales call-centre at the click of a button- even allow video calls between buyer and seller. This function would be similar to the messaging facility which is present in some web sites. WebRTC could also be used in eLearning to allow students to access their mentors directly, adding an extra element to the learning process, potentially across geographical regions. Open, standardised approaches to communications platforms are crucial for the future development of communications methods, and increasingly browser-based apps (as opposed to stand-alone ones) will become important in both the mobile and the fixed web. Another important consideration is the companies behind such initiatives. It is perhaps not surprising that WebRTC was initiated by Google back in 2011, champion of the open source operating system Android. Google clearly sees the advantages of open source for developing new ways of communications- it also sees the commercial benefits of open source systems and is in a position to capitalise on them.