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Latest Firefox tries to one-up Skype with WebRTC calling features

Scott M. Fulton, III | Jan. 16, 2015
With this week's rollout of Firefox 35, Mozilla is taking a bold step toward reclaiming the relevance that Firefox once commanded. Key to that effort is the organization's move to take a standard technology called WebRTC and add it to Firefox to let users make voice and video calls from their browser.

Meanwhile, Cisco announced in November plans to extend its WebEx brand into WebRTC territory, with a conferencing system that enables multiparty video, along with a virtual "conference room," all using HTML5. And the former Siemens Enterprise Communications, now known as Unify, is building a sophisticated system of multistream chats. Called Circuit, Unify's system incorporates two-way and multiparty videoconferencing as well as text, in a Web site whose sophistication may rival that of social networks like LinkedIn and SaaS chat streams like Salesforce Chatter.

Granted, neither Cisco nor Unify produce browsers of their own. But it wouldn't take much for them, by way of HTML5 apps or browser plug-ins, to extend their own brands to such an extent that they effectively render the typical browser interface features unnecessary. Rather than powering up your device and double-clicking Internet Explorer or Firefox or Chrome, you may find yourself powering up Circuit or WebEx or Skype or Hello.

Yet another consideration will be whatever AT&T chooses to call its entry into the WebRTC mix. Yes, that's coming too.

Is Mozilla prepared for competition on this scale? Maybe, and maybe not. "We're focused on building a great communication feature for Firefox users," answered Mozilla's Chad Weiner, "that is easy to use, works across browsers, doesn't require an account, and enables sharing and collaboration."


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