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When Apple supports WebRTC, then what?
Think about the renewed possibilities for casual WebRTC-enabled applicationsChris Koehncke
Whether your browser supports WebRTC on the desktop has become somewhat of a moot point. Just download Chrome and you’re done. Odds are though, you are using Chrome or have it already downloaded.
Chrome has obliterated all its competition with +50% worldwide market share. The others fade like vintage film stock. I’ve been waiting so long for Microsoft to get their WebRTC act together I”m starting to believe in Santa Claus again. On Mac, Safari users are smart enough to have already downloaded Chrome. Game, set, match.
But on a mobile device, things aren’t so clean. While you can wrap WebRTC into into your app for iOS, it’s not native. For the other ~ 82% of the world who are using Android, you can build a native web app with WebRTC. Unfortunately iOS has whopping 43% market share in the US and you can’t ignore that. Thus the lack of native WebRTC on iOS has been a show stopper for trying to deploy a browser base communications applications on any mobile platform. The math doesn’t work.
Last April, Apple quietly flipped the switch and said that WebRTC was “in development” for Webkit (the engine for Safari on both desktop and mobile). Apple is always super secretive about everything (just ask them what kind of soup they’re serving in the cafeteria today). But they hired some WebRTC resources, attended a few industry gatherings. If there’s smoke, there’s fire. Something was going on.
This is significant as it would mean you can deploy a mobile-centric web-based app with a WebRTC component and be nearly assured it would work on any mobile phone.
Let me make a few predictions
Another example is in the consumer field of customer support. Say you bought some widget and can’t figure out how to set up. You’re already in a bad mood when you decide to call the support center. The odds of you downloading and setting up some app to help the support desk “see what you see” and maintaining a decent mood is zero. I’m in a bad mood just thinking about this.
However, if you simply need to click a link. Launch my browser. Well, OK you can take a look. I expect casual customer support apps that need video to have an uptick.
So assume Apple has WebRTC, it’s no longer a dream, you should think about the new possibilities that open up once you no longer have to worry about whether the end user has the app installed or correct browser.