Google and Mozilla have been seen as competitors for several years in the browser space. Despite both of their browsers being built almost entirely on open source code with the help of active and supporting communities, the two browsers have been trading blows for market share since Chrome’s initial release in 2008.
Competition is good. When it comes to browsers, competition is absolutely paramount to the user experience. Google and Mozilla recognize this, and each of these browsers have a lot to offer their respective user bases in both features and wide acceptance of the latest Web standards. Where competition is a good thing, cooperation can be even better.
For the first time, users of both Chrome and Firefox can communicate with each other in an exciting new way.
According to Mozilla’s press release:
RTCPeerConnection (also known simply as PeerConnection or PC) interoperability means that developers can now create Firefox WebRTC applications that make direct audio/video calls to Chrome WebRTC applications without having to install a third-party plugin.
Now, directly from a browser without the addition of any third-party software, users can make audio and/or video calls to one another directly. With this technology being made available across Chrome and Firefox, the benefits to their respective users are quite clear. Because this technology is largely open, it probably won’t be long before other browsers such as Opera and perhaps even IE adopt the technology. In fact, this Web standard wouldn’t care about the browser or device on which it’s being used. The idea of making a call from your smartphone or iPod to a user on a desktop without having to install an app or third-party plug-in to do so makes this announcement extremely exciting.
Indeed, the future of the Web is in open technologies. This is a very good thing for consumers on a budget, developers hoping to build their own platforms for use by a wider audience, and anyone with interest in the advancement of communication technology.
Of course, open source scripts and standards only work if the industry adheres to them. For many years, Microsoft attempted to define its own set of Web standards apart from the open source community. The result was a severe disconnect between Web sites designed for IE and its competitors. You basically had to build two websites coupled with a detection script that told the browser which set of code to execute. It’s a nightmare, and it’s good to see that IETF and W3C are backing the WebRTC initiative.