I just read the transcript of pal Dave Michels UC Strategies Podcast on the topic of WebRTC and the Channel. Dave did a great job of asking questions that have got to be scaring the pants off of the hardware oriented players. Or at least, that's what Dave's line of questioning did to get me thinking.
If I'm Shore-Tel, which is trying so, so hard to pivot to software and the cloud, Polycom who has to announce things months in advance to get any kind of pulse of the market before putting hardware or software into the market by judging reaction to make plans, Cisco who can't seem to get past it's core business lines, or just any PBX vendor like NEC I'd be looking at Dave and wishing he didn't ask the questions he did, because the picture painted by the the respondents, well, lets just say, it's a browser based world ahead.
But the success of WebRTC is not simply going to be as endpoints in the voice and video biz, which is why I coined the phrase BV&V, short for beyond voice and video. That's where all the Unified Communications hardware guys are stuck. They have never really embraced the cloud, where WebRTC will excel. Instead they have "looked" at the cloud, and created lighweight links to it, or sold "hardware" through the service provider channel.
The channel players who will be winning first will be the software centric arms merchant folks like Acme Packet/Oracle, Broadsoft, FreeSwitch, client Sansay and others who are and have been already working their magic in a cloud environment, long before the desperate to pivot folks like Polycom will ever do. From my perspective, the winners are the companies that have already figured out that BYOD + Mobile + Cloud + WebRTC reduces the drag on things like software development, trim the need for licenses for softphones that are downloaded, and instead pay for services vs. hardware.
The "app" economy is best seen when you look at GoogleApps and the ecosystem that has sprung up around it. Just like eBay has a full service provider cottage industry that supports it and vice versea, WebRTC's supporting players who figure out that it's connecting services into the browser, ala GoogleApps, is where the money is, will be the channel players of the future. The GoogleChrome experiment of Pong with the Bear is an example of priming the pump in this direction.
If I'm one of the hardware merchants today, I'm looking first for an arms merchant to pair up with, and then buying up some compatible cloud/app based companies and putting it all together.
-- Andy Abramson