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Thoughts on WebRTC Conference & Expo and "Where Are All The Web Developers?"

by Nicole Hayward

OnSIP VP of Marketing & Product Management comments on 'Where are all the web developers' at the WebRTC Conference and Expo.

Published: June 25, 2014

I recently read a good blog by Billy Chia of Asterisk on NoJitter entitled Developers, Not Dial Tone, and it got me thinking. Billy points out a theme that I also experienced at the recent WebRTC Conference & Expo IV: Many conversations involved how carriers are reacting to WebRTC, getting WebRTC calls to and from the traditional telecom systems, and so on. Terms like "SBC" were spoken, and I think this irritated a handful of WebRTC pioneers.

I conversed with a gentleman who said, "It's a WebRTC conference. Where are all the developers?" This is really the crux of the phenomenon last week. The majority of attendees seemed to be business communications services vendors, and these vendors have been anchored by the Public Switched Telephone Network for years. We at OnSIP have been talking "pure P2P communications over the Internet" for a decade, but the fact of the matter is, we've found, most businesses need to be reachable by telephone. 

Sending voice calls from a WebRTC client to a phone is a legit use case in a sea of many, many more.

There is room for WebRTC applications of all sorts— apps that interop with the traditional telephone networks and 100% Internet-based apps, wherein the meaning of "SIP trunking" will forever remain irrelevant. But, I agree with Billy and others that the widespread WebRTC adoption will be driven by the HTML5/JavaScript developer community.

There is more potential for the HTML5 mobile and web developer community to provide new value to the end user by transforming the way we communicate. It is important for businesses in the RTC space to recognize that. WebRTC promises communication experiences that are catered to our context: the action we need to perform and the app we're using to do it. When tied down to a traditional voice telephone call, context is lost, this promise falls away, and the possibilities are limited.

Then why so much "telco" talk at a WebRTC event?

So an interesting question here is: Why does it seem that WebRTC adoption and celebration has started with companies in the telecom space?

Well, who do you think commercialized, evangelized, and popularized polymethyl methacrylate, a.k.a. acrylic glass or Plexiglas™? People who had been making glass products. Window and street lamp manufacturers commercialized PMMA as a substitute, higher impact resistant material for glass. Today, PMMA is used not just as a replacement material, but as a raw material for invention. And so will WebRTC.

WebRTC evangelism to be continued

I agree with Billy that we early adopters need to do a better job at evangelizing WebRTC to the web developer community. In just a few weeks, the OnSIP team is headed to DevCon5. Held in New York City July 9-10, DevCon5 is an HTML5 Designer and Developer Conference that assembles the premier thinkers and speakers in this space. In preparation for the event, our team is planning demos and making a concerted effort to remove telco jargon that's become habitual pre-WebRTC.



My final thought here is that there is more to advocating WebRTC to web developers. It's not just our events exhibits and web marketing. It's in the SDKs and documentation we create. Let's lower the barriers to leveraging this technology wherever possible— make it easy, digestible, and efficient.