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WebRTC China Update from the Wall

Notes from one of the first WebRTC events in China.

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

I’m in Beijing in the heart of this capital city’s Silicon Valley at what is perhaps the first WebRTC event in China. A group of 400 mostly technical folks have showed up for this 2 day event primarily driven by China start-up Agora Lab but featuring a variety of speakers (myself included) and educational events (including training by Dan Burnett and Alan Johnston).

This first event reminds me of the first US WebRTC event held a the clearly downmarket South San Francisco conference center years ago. The audience is interesting, lots of chatting about various ideas and vendors mostly kept at bay.

That 400 people turned up is notable considering that all of the Google properties are mostly blocked by the great China Firewall. You can’t even download Chrome in China. Like some crack addict, I found myself hopelessly in need of a Google fix as Gmail, Maps, Search, Play Store as no Google domain simply fail to resolve.

Interest levels amongst the audience were high and surprising the equally high level of technical knowledge already about WebRTC. Women developers were well represented consisting of about 10% of the total audience (give or take), but interesting the women participants represented about 50% of the often detailed questions asked. A pleasant surprise.
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China is highly competitive, thus there isn’t as free of an exchange of what people are trying to build as I might see in San Francisco. However, it’s clear this audience is rethinking video applications. China is mobile-only in many cases, so not surprising many questions about mobile capabilities. China is quite comfortable making devices, so lots of questions about linking WebRTC into fixed application devices.

The Chinese are well used to working around roadblocks, there was less argument or concern about standards. There is much more of a “what is it available and what are the limitations I need to content with” attitude. Whatever it takes to get the job done.

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Another call out to Agora Labs for funding the translation of Dan Burnett and Alan Johnston’s popular book the WebRTC API, now available on Kindle at Amazon (cover shown left).

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