Chris Kranky

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The most WebRTC compliant browser is?

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

Marketing-door-choicesIs the browser game about to change or rather are browsers about to become irrelevant? We all too often forget that mobile is leading this charge. How often do you use your browser on your mobile or pad versus an application you downloaded? How often when you do use your pad/mobile web browser only to hit a site with an annoying header saying “Download our handy application, it’s so much better than our website?” Have you looked at Windows 8, doesn’t it by default try to look like an over grown iPhone? Are you seeing a pattern here?

As an application developer, I want 100% control of the user experience and the only way to do this via an executable (an app). In the mobile world, you happily head over to the app store and download something and think nothing of it. Clearly I’ll download an app for something I plan to use regularly, right? Why not for nearly anything? Because it takes time. Well do you think download speeds are going to increase or decrease? Exactly. In the future the time to download an app will be near nothing, so you won’t really care all that much.

I’ve heard people whine about “why doesn’t WebRTC work on {insert name of browser that doesn’t support WebRTC}.” What’s the big deal to download a browser? We’re already downloading 800 iOS applications per second during peak hours. Yet we all get hung up on this and we all seem to be ignoring that train whistle in the background as we dance on the tracks waiting.

The browser is irrelevant.

What is relevant is the platform, the underlying OS will likely matter less. Microsoft was on this years ago when they attempted to incorporate IE into the OS. They were 100% right, unfortunately, it’s taken a little longer to get there (we’re here BTW). You’ve seen Chromebook? Another overgrown mobile phone. Getting a better sense of where this is all going.

As an application developer, like it or not, I develop apps for both Android and iOS. Usually I can’t use the same teams because the underlying technology is different. iOS is easier, thus why you often see apps first on iOS. While Android, due to the numerous device types, require more edge case development, testing and debug time. We’re already happy with this model.

This model is about to get a whole lot louder on what remains of your desktop.

The challenge with WebRTC isn’t whether Explorer can set up a WebRTC path to Chrome. Or whether it supports VP8 or H.264. The reality is it simply doesn’t matter in the new rules of game in what is likely to be an even more closed loop system.

What will matter is I as a developer will select a ‘platform’ based upon how easy it is to build my application, I’ll factor in what features that platform supports as well how successful that platform is. I will recognize I may have to develop my same application for each platform if I want 100% coverage. But I may well be ok with a single platform choice. But it will be my choice.

Who is then likely to have the best WebRTC platform?

Get ready for the surprise answer – Apple.

Apple already knows how to support developers, knows how to market and profit from your application and mostly doesn’t much care about industry agreement on standards, they just do stuff and tell you to use it. Apple is already well experienced with communications with Facetime (though Microsoft and Google both have their own experience though far less integrated into their platforms). You might quickly imagine an Apple application being available for Windows that could be a browser but really is more of an application manager. Ruh roh.

If you’re waiting for WebRTC to be a standard, I hope you packed lunch and an overnight bag, cause you may be waiting a while. The new era of browsers/platform/app store is about to be upon us and yes they will support communications as a base element and yes the API’s will look a lot like WebRTC, but plug compatible I can assure you they will not.

The game will be about attracting developers to my platform and if possible exclusively. I’ll do this with great support, great app store, massive usage and ease of development.