Chris Kranky

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Amazon Mayday maybe using WebRTC & who cares

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

holy_grailChad Hart has written a great article @webrtchacks on debugging the Amazon Kindle Mayday function. Mayday provides a single tap function from the Kindle reader to connect with a live call center representative. Within the WebRTC community, there has been some quest for the holy grail to uncover whether Mayday is using WebRTC. As if it will be some grand proof point to legitimize the technology.

As Chat uncovers, Amazon’s Mayday is sorta kinda of using WebRTC. So what does that mean?

It means that the Internet continues to win the battle in communications where standards are more like guidelines, rather than edicts or rigid frameworks. What is readily apparent is that internal to Amazon they focused on the application, what they wanted to accomplish and simply looked about on the floor for the best components to do the job.

“Ah, we need to figure out the network topology, we’ll use this STUN thing. Damn, we may need to deal again with irregular networks this open source TURN box looks like we can bang it into what we need. We gotta send the audio back into our call center so we’ll use G.711 and maybe pipe SIP over WebSockets since that’s what our call center will understand and we’ll wrap it all with some special sauce signaling of our own design.”

There is a lesson here. Standards are there to make your life easier. When rules become rigid frameworks with 3-letter acronyms, the focus turns to adhering to a long list of requirements where each passing RFC takes you further away from the user experience.

WebRTC doesn’t need to be legitimized, it is what is it and with no doubt will be doubly improved 12 months from now. Within the limits it has, WebRTC is perfectly suitable for specific tasks. But it isn’t an end destination, it will never be perfect and hopefully it will never have a 3 letter acronym.

To quote Monty Python, “you don’t vote for kings.”