Chris Kranky

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WebRTC: Opening pandora’s box

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

HopeJaron Lanier (blog) is likely the first geek, having termed the phrase “virtual reality” some years ago and been involved in all sorts of bleeding edge technologies. He’s written the book, “Who Owns the Future?” which proves to raise some interesting questions about how technology, while improving our lives, is increasingly reducing the need and value of the human worker. Voice communications has had a long tough ride.


Years ago, a service provider voicemail system could be sold for $80 a port (concurrent call). Today, a handful of extremely thin and scrappy vendors are happy if they can get $0.15 a port. In the beginning, the solution was highly integrated. We sourced our own special hard drives. Wrote our own O/S. Installation of these often room size systems was measured in months and required highly trained specialty personnel.  The company died off because it’s nearly impossible to downscale a company to operate at 1/100th of the original selling price

WebRTC is preparing to reduce the entire complexity of the world’s telephony network down to 30 lines of Javascript and a lightly used Apache server.

With every death, there is a birth and with this new technology, there will be new business opportunities and a new sense of value. Jaron points out that at it’s pinnacle, now mostly defunct Kodak had a market cap of $28 billion and employed 14,000 people while Instagram (the face of new era digital photography) was bought for $1 billion and had a mere 13 employees. It will be very difficult, or more likely impossible, to drag existing business models to compete adequately into this new age. Several large telco types, Telefonica and Orange amongst the names, have created venture groups who are looking to fund start-up ventures who in fact are looking to compete with the mammoths at their own game. This is smart exercise and every service provider worldwide should have a similar effort. While it won’t likely save the jobs of all the employees, it does provide hope for longer term continuity.