The Outlook for WebRTC in 2014 and Beyond

WebRTC supplement

The Outlook for WebRTC in 2014 and Beyond

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  June 01, 2014

The outlook for WebRTC is a positive one, but questions persist as to whether and when this technology will cross the chasm from early adoption to mass-market embrace – and what it will take for WebRTC to make that leap. That’s according to the WebRTC Outlook 2014 Report, which is based on a December 2013 survey of more than 100 leading entrepreneurs, users, and vendors in the WebRTC ecosystem.

The survey had 13 questions, eight of which were multiple choice and five of which were open-ended. Both the survey and responses were organized into five categories addressing trends in WebRTC, user adoption, industry adoption and impact, WebRTC plans, and barriers to the technology.

Most survey respondents believe WebRTC adoption will be in the 50 million to 200 million range by the end of this year, but some surveyed said their applications will reach a billion users in 2014. Meanwhile, most survey respondents believe the number of devices that will be WebRTC enabled by the end of 2014 will either be in the 100-300 million device range or in the one to two billion range. 

“This data reflects much of the earlier data where about 30-35 percent of the respondents had a relatively low expectation of the outlook for growth in 2014, while the remainders were more positive,” according to the report. “It also reflects a greater view that WebRTC is so large and divergent that it is hard to make predictions.”

WebRTC will cause major disruption in the areas of contact center, videoconferencing, and web conferencing – all of which are expected to experience dramatic change due to WebRTC, according to many survey respondents. 

“Overall, contact centers have more new business focus by the respondents than any other area,” according to the report.

Customer care and contact centers are also expected to be the first area to see widespread WebRTC adoption, followed by social media, BYOD, general video, health care, service providers, and then financial services.

Nonetheless, more than 68 percent of the survey respondents indicated they do not believe that WebRTC will emerge from the chasm in 2014, but rather think we will continue to see initial deployments and niches with a possibility of major deployments. However, the report states, “there is virtually universal agreement that given standard stabilization and Microsoft and Apple (News - Alert) support, WebRTC will emerge as a major market force.”

Although the fact the Apple and Microsoft are not at the moment supporting WebRTC looms large with survey respondents, who ranked it second on the technology’s top barriers to adoption, it is lack of awareness relative to WebRTC that the survey group sees as the No. 1 barrier. That means that industry events like WebRTC Conference & Expo IV and articles like this one are of the utmost importance to move the effort forward. Other top barriers for WebRTC, according to survey respondents, include unspecified codec standards, limited features, lack of developers, lack of standards, and mobile support.

Many of those respondents who said 2014 will not be the year WebRTC crosses the chasm attributed that to the need for Apple and Microsoft (News - Alert) to join the market first. Other reasons were a lack of well-defined use cases and ROI for WebRTC, the fact that the standards process remains a stalemate, that WebRTC made too much noise for the few applications to which it provides real value, and the idea that there are no big companies deploying WebRTC. Meanwhile, some who are undecided about the timing of mass-market adoption for WebRTC indicated that there has to be a trigger for widespread adoption, such as a service provider or device supporting WebRTC natively.

“Overall, the general view is that WebRTC is gaining velocity and is viewed even more favorably at the beginning of 2014 than at the beginning of 2013,” according to the report. “When it comes to 2014 growth and adoption, the community is split, with an equal number believing that 2014 will be the year versus 2015 or beyond.  While the large group of respondents indicating that they feel the big surprise will be Microsoft and/or Apple delivering supported products, this may be as much hope as insight, though perhaps there is some level of knowledge in the responses.”

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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