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Is WebRTC Making Zoom Redundant?

In the last couple of years, the way people and businesses communicate and collaborate has changed significantly. At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, video conference calls evolved as the go-to way for business communication. A Gartner report confirms, by 2024, only 25% of meetings will take place in person, down from 60% today (source).  Marketsandmarkets, a leading tech consulting firm, also confirms this trend, it says that the global video conferencing market size will grow to the tune of US$ 22.5 billion by 2026 with a 19.7% CAGR growth rate (source). However, this also intensified the clash for dominance between different between Zoom and WebRTC based tech players.

To cater to the growing needs for new-age video conferencing solutions, there is an increased focus on new industry standards. As a result, WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) has become the latest web standard. Integrating real-time communication capabilities through the web browser, WebRTC makes click-to-start meetings possible without downloading any dedicated app or plug-in. Moreover, it has taken over the conventional approach of using proprietary signaling and infrastructure as deployed by platforms like Zoom to battle over standards and codecs in the early phase. Let us examine how WebRTC does this.

Video Quality

The prevalent belief is that Zoom offers better video quality as compared to WebRTC. However, when put to test under a controlled environment, the reverse was found true. Under one such experiment, a Mac device was connected to a WiFi network, along with a network limiter to maneuver the network configuration. The examiners then conducted 1:1 video calls using Zoom and with WebRTC. The idea was to initiate each call with as much bandwidth as needed. After this, the bandwidth was limited to 500kbps to observe the time taken by both platforms to adapt. The limit was removed to observe the time taken by platforms to adapt back to the available bandwidth. Even on a limited testing scale, the experiment showed that WebRTC is much better compared to Zoom in terms of video quality, especially when the network bandwidth fluctuates. While WebRTC takes 20 seconds for full adaptation to limiting the bandwidth, Zoom does the same in 156 seconds. When the network bandwidth is improved again to 2 Mbps, WebRTC takes 32 seconds to readjust as compared to 62 seconds taken by Zoom (source). 

Meeting Business Requirements

WebRTC creates Communication Enabled Business Processes where voice, video, and data are embedded in apps and web pages, providing customizable and scalable solutions. On the other hand, while Zoom allows integration to any software, it lacks flexibility and customization as compared to WebRTC. Thus, large enterprises often prefer WebRTC over Zoom.

User Interface

WebRTC is deemed more user-friendly as it allows customized video layouts and several other mobile-friendly features. A WebRTC compatible browser can send audio from a microphone over the internet and play audio it receives in real-time.

In the case of Zoom, of course, moments of frustration and friction are entirely present, making it an unremarkable platform. Therefore, API browser-based video calls effectively enable user experience journey against the Zoom app.

Reliability

The Covid-19 pandemic-induced user surge on Zoom also exposed the platform’s shortcomings regarding user protection (source). The security and privacy issues in Zoom have not been satisfactory.  On the other hand, WebRTC is a more secure option. WebRTC sessions are mandated by Secure Real-Time Protocol encryption and different security standards, making it far more reliable than zoom.

To Conclude

The above analysis indicates that WebRTC genuinely helps unlock the potential of video technology as it’s about creating an entirely new layer of visual and audio communications. It enables a seamless video experience and requires less battery, bandwidth, and network resources than video conferencing platforms like Zoom. So, look out for WebRTC: it is out to change the way we communicate.

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