Telecom Council Innovation Showcaser: Bit6 – Think Beyond WebRTC to Deliver a Complete User Experience
Author: Jonathan Ha, VP Marketing at Bit6
WebRTC may be one of the hot technology buzzwords at the moment, but as adoption has swelled and new players have entered the discussion, misunderstandings about WebRTC have gained traction. Contrary to the hype, WebRTC is not poised to solve the world’s communications problems.
It is important to understand WebRTC’s limitations.
WebRTC solves an important and complicated set of problems, making it possible to collect, convert and send streamable audio and video data between browsers. From the start, WebRTC was intended to be a fairly one-dimensional initiative. Those involved in the development of the standard never set out to address how it would be applied. They correctly left that to the development community.
On its own, WebRTC is an essential building block. It is already playing a major role in accelerating development of a wave of innovative technologies and communication solutions, reaching hundreds of millions of users.
That is a lot to be proud of.
But WebRTC’s limitations are most evident when observing how people actually use communication tools in today’s hyper-connected world. As a use case, a standard for real-time communications between browsers is out of sync with user behaviors.
People expect to be able to stay connected via voice, video and messaging, wherever and whenever, across multiple platforms and devices, including smartphones and tablets. And messaging must be seen as a priority, particularly for those serving communities that skew younger. According to Experian, U.S. smartphone owners ages 18 to 24 send 2,022 texts per month on average – 67 texts on a daily basis – and receive another 1,831.
We encourage the tech community to think of WebRTC as an important piece of the communication ecosystem – but just a piece.
By bringing WebRTC to mobile and coupling it with other aspects of communications, such as text and multimedia messaging, application developers can create new communications capabilities and deliver a unified experience that satisfies how people actually communicate.
As Amazon has illustrated through their innovative use of WebRTC as one piece of their communications software stack to deliver Mayday (Apple, Google and others also have creatively deployed WebRTC in combination with other technologies), WebRTC’s true promise is only unlocked when it is combined with mobile and messaging capabilities.
And the creativity is just beginning. As Chad Hart imagined in a recent post on No Jitter (“How WebRTC Could Disrupt the Hospitality Industry”), Airbnb could use WebRTC-based connectivity to enable dynamic interactions between hosts and guests. He suggests the guest experience throughout the entire hospitality industry could be revolutionized through use of one-way video from a concierge similar to Amazon’s Mayday service.
A bigger worldview is necessary to leap beyond WebRTC’s discrete and one-dimensional point-to-point capabilities that are disconnected from how people actually communicate.
Our experience with communication apps has illustrated that even with access to the most advanced communications software, a full communications ecosystem must still account for users who remain on legacy systems – such as feature phones and even landlines.
No communications solution will be truly connected and inclusive if billions of people are out of reach.
As you look at WebRTC and other technologies to implement communications features into your applications, here are a few questions to ask:
- Are we making it possible for people to connect via smartphones and tablets?
- Are we satisfying the strong preference among younger users for messaging over voice and/or video?
- Are we including those who only have access to legacy systems, such as feature phones and landlines?
- Are we delivering a unified user experience?
2014 Telecom Council Innovation Showcase:
The 2014 Telecom Council Innovation Showcase consists of 13 young companies with the potential to disrupt the telecommunications industry. The companies were selected to participate in this year’s Showcase from nearly 100 applicants by Telecom Council member judges from BT, NTT Docomo, Ericsson, HTC, JT Global, Orange, Qualcomm, Rogers, Sofinnova Ventures, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telstra, and U.S. Cellular based on standard Telecom Council criteria – innovation, momentum, viability, and management. To learn more about Bit6 and the other 2014 Innovation Showcasers, visit www.telecomcouncil.com/2014Showcase.php
Meet the Telecom Council Innovation Showcasers:
ShowStoppers Press Event – Sept. 8 in Las Vegas, Nevada
CTIA Startup Lab at CTIA’s Super Mobility Week – Sept. 9-11 in Las Vegas, Nevada
Telecom Council Investor Forum – Sept. 26 at Nokia in Sunnyvale, CA (must be an active investor to participate)
TC3: Telecom Council Carrier Connections – Oct. 1-2 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA