Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime (Unless You Use Apple)

webrtcAs more of us work virtually, it is imperative that we can communicate with each other easily, seamlessly, and that the web browsers we use support standards vendors agree upon.

One such browser-based technology already exists. With it you launch a web browser that supports this technology and “call” anyone, anywhere who has internet access. You could see them on video. Share your screen with them. Get in to a chat or a group chat. Share files with each other. Plus, since web browsers run on virtually every modern mobile device, this ability would extend to your communications anytime.

Unfortunately, the #1 most promising technology, WebRTC, is only minimally supported at this moment. A standards battle is underway and is yet another one amongst giants hoping to dominate the next wave of unified communications…to our detriment IMHO. Seamless, easy, ubiquitous communication capability—with anyone, anywhere and anytime—should be in our hands already. The technology exists and works well.


WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) is the technology supported by Google, Firefox, Opera and others, including Android, ChromeOS and Firefox OS. It is an API definition drafted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that supports browser-to-browser applications for voice calling, video chat, and P2P file sharing without the need of either internal or external plugins.

Object RTC (ORTC) is a free, open project that enables mobile endpoints to talk to servers and web browsers with Real-Time Communications (RTC) capabilities via native and simple Javascript APIs. It is intended more for mobile web application development and the Object RTC components are being optimized to best serve this purpose. W3C is developing ORTC for WebRTC and is commonly referred to as WebRTC 1.1. Support includes the above-named companies and ORTC includes Microsoft and their next generation browser entitled “Project Spartan.”  (Note: It is unclear whether or not the browser-based Skype support Microsoft currently has in beta is ORTC or something else).

So where is Apple in all of this?

Apple once touted the app "iChat" as a platform to hold group meetings that included screensharing tooApple once touted the app “iChat” as a platform to hold group meetings that included screensharing too. Now the company offers individual apps like Facetime and Messages, both iOS and Mac-only technologies.

While offering only proprietary technologies enables Apple to control the technology, security, and use, it does nothing for real people who need to communicate with people on lots of other platforms.

It is one of the reasons Skype took off and did so well: It ran on top computing platforms and then quickly migrated to mobile devices from multiple vendors. In short, it became a standard.

Anyone who knows me understands I love Apple and should make a disclaimer since I own the company’s stock. Still, I don’t always agree with what they do, since I can envision what I want and need as well as what would accelerate my communications with clients, family and friends.

Maybe WebRTC and ORTC are too new and Apple isn’t ready to embrace it, but will. Perhaps there are security holes of which I’m not yet aware and probably should be. All I know is that it is still too hard to communicate with people on other platforms, without using something like Go to Meeting or for hundreds of dollars per year (at a minimum).

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.