WebRTC – A Standard Poised To Really Go Places?

Image: Uncalno - Flickr
Richard N. Block

Key Analysts see a rosy Future for the Open-Source Protocol

People do much of their real-time communications with standalone apps like FaceTime, or the old-fashioned way with regular phone calls. But the Web Real-Time Communications field — an open-source, W3C-standardized collection of technological applications whose name is commonly shortened to WebRTC — is gaining ground.

As TechCrunch puts it: WebRTC has become “an emerging standard of web communication that makes high-definition, high-resolution, low-bandwidth video, audio chat and peer-to-peer data transfer as simple as a single browser link.” Mozilla (Firefox Hello), Google (via Chrome and Hangouts), and Microsoft (with Skype’s WebRTC alpha release for Linux this year) have thrown their hats in the ring. Basically, any field in which people benefit from communicating in real time over distances — which is to say, most fields — could find, or have found, a use for WebRTC solutions.

Browser-based user-to-user telecommunications will enjoy huge growth in the coming year, and in the years to come, according to one industry analyst.

Future Market Insights, the London-based firm that describes itself as “the premier provider of market intelligence and consulting services,” provides these services to clients in many industries, including IT. In November 2016, it released a forecast for the WebRTC solutions market looking out to 2025, appropriately titled “Web Real-time Communication (RTC) Solution Market: Global Industry Analysis and Opportunity Assessment, 2015–2025.” This analysis predicts a compound annual growth rate of 45.2% for the market as a whole over that time period.

Major players in the WebRTC solutions market include voice solution providers such as Vonage, app providers such as WhatsApp, telecom carriers, on-premises systems providers, bulk-SMS service providers, and WebRTC platform providers. Companies like Google and IBM, among others, are identified as other key players in the market.

According to that same TechCrunch article, Google has driven the standard’s development — appropriate, since it was Google that released the first WebRTC package in June 2011 and announced its subsequent inclusion in Chrome. It goes on to explain the current move toward WebRTC by global IT companies:

The trend is clear: communications systems are moving to incorporate WebRTC, with global players molding or adopting the technology. Communications itself is converging to a single platform, served by the WebRTC standard, which the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and theWorld Wide Web Consortium (W3C) are working in tandem to formalize.

As of this blog entry’s publication, according to the official WebRTC site, “The WebRTC effort is being standardized on an API level at the W3C, and at the protocol level at the IETF.” The then-current editor’s draft of the standard was published Dec. 19, 2016, pending comment and the remainder of the approval process.

Analysts’ Predictions, summarized

Some of the report’s highlights:

  • There will be a shift to the services segment of the solutions market, likely fuelled by growth that will outpace the currently dominant solutions segment. The service segment contains the consulting, implementation, integration, and maintenance sub-segments. At the start of the period under study, implementation was dominant, followed by integration.
  • Video conferencing, currently the dominant application for WebRTC, will grow in market share by 600 basis points (6%) by 2025.
  • The healthcare, media/entertainment, and IT/telecom verticals together accounted for 57.7% of the overall WebRTC market in 2014.
  • North America (with 35%), followed by Western Europe, currently dominate market share, but the Asia-Pacific Excluding Japan region is set to lead growth in the solutions market through 2025 (per the authors, Japan constitutes its own region).

The Low-down

To hear FMI tell it, the picture looks reasonably clear from here: in the next eight years or so, WebRTC’s adoption by major technology players will continue, and the services market segment will expand fastest. Certainly, given the investment by major players in this emerging technology, we can expect to see more applications and providers entering the market.

Start typing and press Enter to search