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Google to integrate internet telephony features into Chrome?

With Skype's internet telephony solution being the most popular one available to consumers by far, it would make perfect sense that Microsoft would have attempted to acquire the company and its interlectual property in order to integrate its functionality into is software offerings. However, it seems that Google is also keen to integrate Skype-like features into its very own Chrome browser, and from the looks of it, the company appears to be in a position where it can potentially deliver a very compelling alternative to what Skype has been offering users for the longest time.

As far as Internet telephony and video conferencing are concerned, there is probably only one company that is capable of offering a decent solution that appeals to both consumers and enterprises, and it comes in the form of Skype's software product, which bears the same name as the the company which created it. However, it seems that Google has been harboring plans to create a Skype-like competitor for some time already, and that the recent acquisition of the company by Microsoft has been the catalyst that has led to the search giant unveiling its plans of integrating some form support for online telephony into its Chrome web browser via its WebRTC project, as revealed in a recent posting made on the Chromium developers mailing list:

Now, you might probably be scratching your head in confusion as to what this "WebRTC" thingamajig is all about, and why Google wants to integrate its functionality into Chrome. Well, based on what we were able to find out, WebRTC is, according to the project's home page, a means on enabling real-time communication functionality on web browsers via a set of "simple JavaScript APIs" and HTML5, and that future releases of WebRTC will allow developers to write their own real-time communication applications for use in browsers. The concept behind WebRTC is also rather simple: when implemented, WebRTC will allow users to make and recieve both audio and video calls from within the browser itself, as opposed to how users currently have to rely on external applications such as Skype to achieve such functionality.

Of course, an observant person would probably point out that Google already allows users to engage in Internet telephony on web browsers already via its GMail and Google Talk services. That is true, but the real draw of WebRTC stems from the fact that it, when integrated into a web browser, could "open the door for all kinds of new chat services and apps". And considering how the WebRTC project's home page claims that support for the new API is expected to make its way in Firefox and Opera soon, both of which are extremely popular web browsers in their own right, it might seem that WebRTC is in a good position to provide some serious competition to both Microsoft and Skype in the area of Internet telephony services.

Source: WebRTC Project, Chromium Dev discussion group via ZDNet

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