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Trash talk about WebRTC

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

Flickr Jim Hickcox

As a reformer dumpster diver, I ply my trade in the darkened back alleys, it’s here away from the bright lights of a trade show and puff pastry news articles that the real world works their business. A bit of left over information here, a tidbit there and a half smoked cigarette and I’ve nearly got a complete meal.

It is now very apparent that Microsoft is well on it’s way to supporting WebRTC. Several alley cats meowed this to me. Initially, it appeared Microsoft was heading down a path of a universal plug-in via their Open Tech forum but recent vibrations indicate that with ORTC gaining momentum, they may simply go all in making WebRTC native. The topic of video codec is definitely not dead and we could also see H.264/265 as part of this. No big surprise – mobile is a factor.

Over in another rubbish bin, I’m overhearing that Firefox is also working a collaboration angle with WebRTC that might upset a whole world of existing collab players and create a whole new circle of new opportunities. While Firefox has always supported WebRTC, this is a new twist with some incompatibilities.

100% accurate, I’m saying no, directional accurate more likely.

What this means though is that each browser is likely to have a slightly to totally different WebRTC interface and capabilities. Meaning that some apps will “work better with XXX browser” or perhaps only work on a single browser. Perhaps the industry at large will create a common mediation library, so a basic WebRTC app will work on all browsers.

However, what is clear is that the browser wars are far from over and mobile is quickly becoming a center piece.

One’s initial reaction might be, OMG this is not how this movie is supposed to go. However, history has often shown that new technologies take vendor specific paths for a periods (often long). Just try building a complete website that renders properly on all browsers, remains a challenge even today. Fundamentally, this is nothing new.

What is important is that browser vendors recognize the need to support bi-directional media communications without the need for helper apps. Further that WebRTC’ish is probably the way to go and that some special extensions are permissible at this stage of the game for competitive reasons. This type of capability is another coffin nail in the strange world of everything being a downloaded applications (versus the current desktop where nearly everything is run from the cloud).

While Microsoft, Google and Firefox are not necessarily kissing cousins – they do share a common enemy in the mobile fight against arch enemy Apple.

A changing profile on the mobile model for applications and communications clearly puts pressure on Apple. However, Apple has a long history of not adhering to the “go along, get along” philosophy and thus would be in the “we hate WebRTC” camp with their Smores.