Browsers vs. Apps for Low-Latency Streaming in 2021
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Robert Reinhardt: Right now the vast majority of the clients I'm working with want browser-based technology. And I think that that is based on the perception that it's cheaper to maintain overall. Making sure that you're compliant with a wide range of browsers, I still have clients that do medical streaming, for example. It's a niche market, so they can force people to always use Chrome. If you come to the site and you're a pharma rep and you are there in Safari, it's going to say, "Hey, you have to use Chrome." So in some ways, we haven't gotten there yet with people's safety level or comfort. The good news is, Apple was the last holdout for webRTC, and it's funny because Safari supports VP codecs now, but only in webRTC. You can't throw a WebM file in a video tag and have it play in Safari.
They don't want you to do that. That will probably change over time. It might've even changed while I'm talking. But I do find that that is one of the nice things about webRTC. It is getting more and more established in browsers, and so therefore you can do this dev-once, deploy-everywhere approach. Again, it's business requirements, and Krystal brought it up before too, and Oliver with user experience. Getting your pieces together so that they make sense. One of the things I really liked about working with Oliver at nanocosmos when I was reviewing their platform was that they were doing things in a really sensible way, which, you would hope happens more often than not, but when it comes to things like this Zoom presentation, it matters that all of us have low latency. I want to be able to talk to you. You want to be able to cut me off. That's important, but the people watching this and even commenting in the Chat, they don't need that low latency. Someone can ask a question right now and it can be delayed because we're in the middle of the conversation. Steve might pick it up and bring it to someone's attention, but they don't have to be watching this broadcast in an ultra-low latency.
That's how nanocosmos has built their platform. If we were using nanocosmos for this, we would be doing this over webRTC, but they've built it so that their ingest will automatically push out an HLS or websocket version of this that's much cheaper to maintain and enhance and still give that quality of experience that people need in that situation.
So I think that's part of the trickiness right now--figuring out how to get all those parts working together so that they satisfy the business requirements. It makes fiscal sense the way you're deploying it. The hardest thing for me is when I get startups that want to offer a free version of their service, as well as a premium version of their service or a freemium model, and they, they look at price tags like, "Oh, I don't want to pay $500 or a $1000 a month to a platform." You realize your dev costs are going to be astronomical compared to just starting with a platform that is doing a lot of that for you anyway.
Frost & Sullivan's Avni Rambhia discusses the pros and cons of browser- and app-based content delivery strategies in this presentation at Streaming Media East 2017.
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