We decided to give the WebRTC use case series a summer break.
During the past couple of weeks, the Miljul team has been busy with the re-design of the free Web app (big thanks to all the early users who gave us valuable feedback.) In addition, we have been speaking with people from various domains, and especially with individuals who want to either invest in a WebRTC based idea, or want to assess the impact of WebRTC to their specific domains (telecom, customer care, professional services etc.)
The question of customer care powered by WebRTC is fascinating and complex. I will keep a blog post on that topic for the coming weeks. Today, I want to capture our perspective on the business models for WebRTC based companies in the Indian market.
Some of the individuals we have spoken to feel that due to the nature of the app economy, any apps that are available for a global user base are also available for the Indian users and vice-versa. This sounds like a very valid statement on the face of it. Especially for consumer apps. A video call is a video call whether you are an Indian or a Swede. Yes, there are bandwidth differences, but the apps are built to adjust ‘quality of service’ as per available bandwidth.
Coming to WebRTC based apps or those that have a WebRTC service built into the app (online market place for doctors for example), the key is the ‘context’ – how and when does a user need a particular service. This depends on the composite personal and professional habits/business process flows, and to the extent these practices are different from one economy to the other ( examples: Do we manage utility bill payments in the same way in India and US? If I am using a pre-paid mobile connection (Pay-as-you-go), is the re-charge process the same across the world?).
Therefore, it is probably better for an Indian WebRTC consumer services company to decide early on whether their focus is going to be on the Indian market or the global/US market, and build their app/platform for a specific economy or market segment. Extending the scope and reach of the product can come later.
The above picture shows the landscape for WebRTC currently in the global market. At a broad level, there are Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C) models. Within these, there is further segmentation.
There are firms that provide ‘Developer Tools’ – API platforms and SDKs- for any one to subscribe and build a consumer or enterprise-centric application. For example, if you offer training services, you can simply subscribe to an API provider, and build an online learning solution using live video sessions. The technology and back-end infrastructure will be handled by the API Platform vendor. This model makes a lot of sense of companies who wish to leverage WebRTC, but unsure about their in-house team’s ability to handle the intricacies or simply want to get to the market fast. We have a couple of online learning start-ups that have based their solution around a subscription to an API platform provider. There is no India-based WebRTC API platform provider.
Similarly, we (in India) do not yet have companies that are building browser or tool bar plug-ins, or creating integrations for enterprise products such as SAP or Oracle eBusiness Suite. And there are no companies offering telecom or media gateways either, though I suspect some of the Telecom service providers might be working quietly on these offerings.
When we look at the enterprise focused start-ups, again, we do not find Indian companies offering WebRTC-based solutions in the UC (unified communications), messaging, or call centre/CRM areas. It might well be the case that with well-established global companies in these areas, Indian technology entrepreneurs are hesitant to step in.
We at Miljul, feel that US-based startups, however well-funded, will take some time to expand their reach globally. Also, there could be some unique needs in the Indian market that a ‘global app’ may not fulfill effectively.There is plenty of space here for an Indian company to find its feet and grow organically till a point where they are confident of offering an alternative to the existing players. We have examples of Zoho, and Fresh Desk to name just two, that started out as Chennai-based companies before expanding their reach and scope. There is no reason it can’t be repeated in the WebRTC space as well.
Next week, we are targeting a fresh look and design for Miljul, with some additional features. On the blog, we will post our thoughts about the WebRTC consumer app landscape.