Topic of the month covered by WebRTC “activists”
RingCentral is a cloud PBX and contact center provider that also offers Glimp, a team collaboration platform. Lately they decided to open up their WebRTC APIs. RingCentral already had APIs for their platform allowing for integration with their service so calls can be made from services such as Salesforce and Zendesk using RingCentral.
For this month the topic is: Is there anything significant in the RingCentral WebRTC API announcement and what does it mean to the existing PaaS WebRTC services (e.g. TokBox).
Starting with my opinion on this topic.
The opening up of the RingCentral WebRTC API is an enhancement of their offering allowing their customers to build custom interfaces and integration into their communication system. It allows adding communication capabilities to mobile and web applications that integrate directly with the RingCentral system.
While technically there are similarities with generic WebRTC PaaS systems, market and business-wise it is different. The focus of RingCentral is customers that need/use their hosted telephony PBX system to which they provide more flexibility on the front end through these new WebRTC APIs. This is a different focus from WebRTC PaaS companies and therefor not so much competing with them.
It is simply an essential addition to RingCentral’s system.
If the desire of RingCentral is to become a generic WebRTC PaaS provider, that is a different story of a crowded market (not that UCaaS isn’t) in which most companies are struggling to reach significant revenue that can allow sustainability of the company.
Link: Alan Quayle
Over the past couple of years telecommunications has been democratized so almost anyone can program it into the apps, services and business models. There are quite a few PaaS WebRTC services on the market, and more in the pipeline. For many general use cases, even when its communications within a specific context, a business can not afford to be a technology bigot. They simply need their application to work across the situations their customers, coworkers or users find themselves. Hence WebRTC AND Telecom APIs has proven to be quite useful. In time it will become a pure-play web-centric world, and Google’s vision for WebRTC will be realized – you will be assimilated. Until then offering WebRTC AND Telecom APIs meets the needs of an important category of use cases, let the PaaS WebRTC services flourish!
Link: Disruptive Analysis
RingCentral’s WebRTC APIs are primarily aimed at extending its UCaaS franchise. It’s a sector with rapid growth, but many players – and so the largest providers are looking for sources of differentiation. Some are internationalising fast (eg 8×8), some are pursuing app integration more, and others trying to compete with Slack & other newcomers. Microsoft and Cisco are pushing their own cloud collaboration suites as well – it’s a complex market.
As such, RingC’s announcement doesn’t really pitch it against most of the WebRTC PaaS providers (eg TokBox, Kandy) directly. They are not generally aiming at the UC enterprise space – most usage of those platforms is standalone rather than integrated with corporate phone/UC/call-centre systems. There’s perhaps more overlap with Unify Circuit & CafeX’s APIs and gateways.
I think that in general more competition is good, and so having additional WebRTC API’s out there is great since it will drive innovation as the WebRTC platforms try to differentiate. In the case of RingCentral in particular, they are only offering voice support initially. Because of that, it’s not a short-term threat to providers like TokBox who are focused on the video side of WebRTC.
However, this announcement is significant because it takes the industry one step closer to what will eventually be taken for granted – integration between telephony calls and WebRTC calls. It puts pressure on WebRTC platform providers who want to reach into the call center to also provide telephony integration.
I think there’s room for a variety of WebRTC PaaS providers, and for those WebRTC use cases where call center integration is important RingCentral will have an important offering. Over the longer haul, I believe we’ll see other WebRTC providers offer this functionality too so the differentiation between them will come back to pricing and quality of the developer API’s.
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