This is a really good question. After all, Skype is the dominant real-time communications technology on the web with hundreds of millions of users and isn’t very hard to use.
There is a key difference though which is you have to go out of your way to use Skype – you need to download a client. And people would counter with “yeah, but look at everyone using it”. And I’d counter with people figure out how to use it since it’s worth it to them – i.e. it’s free. Sure, I’d figure out how to use it too. And in fact, I have figured out how to use it for that very reason. But if you didn’t have to do anything and download something, then I’m quite sure many, many more people would use it. So that’s where WebRTC comes in. Kind of a weak argument I admit but there is something there.
However, a very real item relates to Skype and business use. Skype is not very integrated into businesses, though I do use it occasionally to talk to customers outside the United States if that is their preferred communication mechanism. It is viewed as more of a consumer application, though possibly with Microsoft that will change now. But still, it will change for Microsoft Messenger, etc. users only I would bet. The key difference with WebRTC will be the integration of WebRTC functionality into the different enterprise applications, such as contact centers, conference servers, IVRs, etc. As media servers, such as offered by Dialogic, are WebRTC enabled, it will enable an entire enterprise application infrastructure that would be embraced by enterprise IT. And that is very different than Skype.
That argument above also relates to service providers as well. Because the value-added services offered by service providers today are not really Skype enabled. Skype is simply an OTT service to the service provider. But if WebRTC value-added applications can be enabled, then WebRTC isn’t simply just an OTT service like Skype. It becomes different and more integrated into a service provider offering and something for the service providers to embrace.
Note: On February, 20th, Dialogic in conjunction with TMC webinars, ran a WebRTC webinar. In terms of number of both registrants and attendees, it was one of the most successful webinars we ever did. The webinar ran 15 minutes over and we were not able to get to some of the key questions that came in at the end. We could have gone literally another hour. This blog is part of a 5 part blog series to get to the top 5 unanswered questions from that webinar.