A few recent articles including ones from Scott, David and myself have all been discussing the future direction of the Video Conferencing space. Well is seems Google has muddied the waters / cleared things up further with their announcement that you will no longer need to have an account to participate in a Google Hangout.
Microsoft Skype did the same thing last month enabling URL only invitation. Google’s version works in a similar way but puts the invite directly in the calendar invite, which should make life a little easier when you’re attempting to join a call, never bothered looking in advance as to what type it was, and panic that you were going to have to download some application or other.
Barrier to entry
I would contend the Google Hangouts is not a major player yet in the UC space, but empowering users to participate directly from a web browser and not having to download software or set anything up should make life much easier, and I think users have always found the barrier to entry of Video Conferencing to be way to high. Not just financially, but from a is it worth the hassle perspective.
Recently I’ve been thinking about WebRTC and have been confused as to why it hasn’t exploded. Two years ago Casey King and I were certainly discussing its relative merits in pretty glowing terms. See this for the details. Webinar on WebRTC
The dirty secret of WebRTC
By rights WebRTC should have taken off. I empowered users to make VC calls without the hassle of downloading an application. The dirty little secret of WebRTC is that infrastructure to empower these users is expensive (it’s all the transcoding), and no one could work out how to do it cost effectively. Living in a pure VP8 world, and with access to cheap compute perhaps Google are now in a position to push this agenda in more than the lame way the manufacturers did in the past.
This is one of those stories that might be huge, or might be shrugged off. I think that depends greatly on Google. If they push it, it might gain traction. If they simply fire it into the market and forget about it, it’ll go nowhere.
What do you think?