Sure, WebRTC is cool. But can it make me any money?

As I’ve discussed before, WebRTC is doing phenomenal as a technology. Power users like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Snapchat continue to grow like crazy. There seems to be another new WebRTC-based app that pops up every day. But how is WebRTC doing in more traditional communications applications?

The reality is WebRTC has done far better with “web” apps than it has with traditional communications apps. There are a few reasons that traditional communications services lag behind:

  • First, telephony apps already have telephony, so WebRTC adds comparatively less than it does for someone without any RTC stack at all.
  • Second, telephony developers aren’t very good at web apps. While the underlying RTC technology is very similar between WebRTC and other VoIP technologies, there is a big skills-gap between providing a web/mobile app and offering services via a 12-button dial pad.
  • WebRTC is also not as ubiquitous as PSTN dial tone. While WebRTC can be added to native mobile apps, less than half of the world has a smart phone. Furthermore, while WebRTC is supported by the majority of browsers, it’s not at 100%. So there needs to be some acceptance that not everyone will have WebRTC access. An “all-or-nothing” mindset is common in many telecom circles, leaving WebRTC on the sidelines.

One can make a pretty good case that all these points are short-term or short-sighted excuses, but that is not the purpose of this post. The more important issue is business case: How do you make money off of WebRTC when you are already making money off of real time communications?

Real time value

None of the major social network deployments monetize WebRTC directly. Most communications providers aren’t in a position to bundle WebRTC into a larger server, or to monetize “engagement” figures to advertisers. This makes the business case hard–but not impossible.

Fortunately, there are several scenarios where WebRTC is a no-brainer:

  • Can WebRTC be used in your service to displace expensive VoIP phones and even soft clients? Replacing remote agent VoIP hardware with a Chromebook can yield significant capital and support cost savings, for example.
  • Will adding easy calling via WebRTC help increase call volumes? We have found even simple click-to-call solutions with WebRTC can help increase net traffic. If your business is built on selling services by the minute, or if your run a revenue-generating call center, even a slight uptick in traffic volume can justify WebRTC
  • Is WebRTC calling is less expensive than making calls otherwise? This can be especially true if your costs include a lot of international long distance charges. WebRTC provides better-than-toll quality audio over the internet, helping to bypass expensive per-country surcharges or toll free number fees without sacrificing audio quality.

Beyond these, there are many instances where WebRTC can provide a much improved user experience or act as a competitive differentiator. These benefits are often harder to quantify, but are certainly important.

I will be discussing all this and more during a webinar, “How to boost your business with WebRTC,” on April 4th, 11 a.m. EDT. Don’t miss it! You can book your seat here:

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