In a move aimed squarely against Skype and its new overlords, Google is taking voice chat and videoconferencing to the land of the free and open source. According to Cnet, Google is planning to add an open source communications protocol called WebRTC into future versions of Chrome. Google developed this project as an outgrowth of its purchase of Global IP Solutions in 2010, and released it to the open source community in May 2011. In typical Google form, the plan was to take Skype-like communication technologies and capabilities, and stick them on the web, in any browser. It promised to work with other browser developers to help achieve this goal, so that developers could start writing web apps that take advantage of the open standard.
Google has already been in the multimedia teleconferencing game for some time. After releasing Voice and Video chat for its Gtalk client, re-releasing it in a mobile incarnation, and integrating its Google Voice VoIP product into new versions of Android OS, Google is ready to unleash its model on non-proprietary platforms.
Microsoft likely already has plans to heavily integrate Skype into many of its online services. If WebRTC can take off as a viable project that developers will want to use, Microsoft could see some stiff competition from developers looking for open-source and cross platform communications solutions in their web apps. Ultimately, the platform could be used to build a total Skype replacement.
WebRTC is Google’s latest attempt to bring native app capabilities to the cloud. As demonstrated in Chrome OS, Google is confident that most if not all activities done by users on a regular basis can be done from a web app. The same applies for real time multimedia communication, and WebRTC hopes to streamline and open source that goal.