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Why Did Atlassian Switch Jitsi’s Open Source License from LGPL to Apache?

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 12:00

Jitsi switching to the Apache open source license is what the doctor ordered.

Blue Jimp, and with it Jitsi, was acquired by Atlassian in April this year. I wrote at the time about Jitsi’s open source license:

The problem with getting the Jitsi Videobridge to larger corporations was its open source license

  • Jitsi uses LGPL. A non-permissive license that is somewhat challenging for commercial use. While it is suitable for SaaS, many lawyers prefer not to deal with it
  • This reduces the Jitsi Videobridge’s chance to get adopted by enterprise developers who can pour more resources into it
  • This may limit Jitsi from building the ecosystem Atlassian wants (i.e – outsourcing some of the development effort to an external developers community)
  • Using BSD, MIT or Apache licenses would have been a better alternative. Will Atlassian choose that route? I am not sure
  • Did Atlassian leave the open source offering due to legal issues or real intent in becoming an open source powerhouse?

You can read my explanation on open source licenses. If you read the comments as well, you’ll see how complex and mired with landmines this domain is.

Last week, an announcement was made in the jitsi-dev mailing list: Jitsi is switching from LGPL to Apache license:

LGPL, our current license allows everyone to integrate and ship our various jars. Once you start making changes and distributing them however, then you you need to make sure these changes are also available under LGPL, AKA the LGPL reciprocity clause.

What I found interesting weer the next two paragraphs:

As the copyright holder, in BlueJimp we have been been exempt from this reciprocity clause. Even though we rarely use it, we had the liberty to modify our code without making our changes public. No one else had this option.

Switching to Apache ends our advantage in this regard, and allows everyone to use, integrate and distribute Jitsi with a lot less limitations.

Some things to notice here:

  • People who made changes to the Jitsi code base had to contribute back the code to Blue Jimp, along with the ability for Jitsi not to act the same – Jitsi maintained a different “license” for itself – this works well when your business model is consulting and customization of the open source project you maintain – not so good for a large enterprise
  • Atlassian took a different approach here by switching to Apache:
    • Atlassian internally has the same decision making processes as other large enterprises. LGPL is harder to adopt than Apache, making a switch to the Apache license for Jitsi a reasonable step to take – preferential treatment for Apache license in Atlassian and elsewhere played a key role here
    • It removed the possible nightmare of maintaining all of the existing CLAs (contributor license agreements) – they might have found them inaccurate, requiring a modification in their terms, needing a reassignment to Atlassian, etc – it was a good time to make the switch to Apache anyway
    • It gives a strong signal to the market, and especially to large enterprises that Jitsi is something they can use – if this turns out well, there will be additional contributors to this software package, as it is a popular one in the WebRTC industry
  • This switch from LGPL to APL (Apache) changes nothing in the ability of Blue Jimp and Atlassian to modify the base code and not contribute it back to the open source package
    • This kind of a thing has happened before during acquisitions of open source project teams
    • It also happens when competition starts using your own open source against you (think Google’s Android)
    • It is unlikely to happen in the short or medium term, based on the signals coming from Atlassian and their current focus
  • This opens up a powerful WebRTC media server (an SFU actually) to a larger number of vendors

All in all, this is a great move to our WebRTC ecosystem. Atlassian is doing the right moves in maintaining the Jitsi community happy and engaged while attracting the larger players in the market. I wouldn’t have done it any other way if I were in their shoes.


Want to make the best decision on the right WebRTC platform for your company? Now you can! Check out my WebRTC PaaS report, written specifically to assist you with this task.


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How OTTs are Challenging VoLTE’s Prime Asset on Smartphones

Mon, 06/22/2015 - 12:00

While our smartphones aren’t phone anymore, their phone-calling real estate is still a prime asset.

VoLTE stands for Voice over LTE. It has been in the making for quite some time, but haven’t made its grand public appearance yet. While carriers around the globe boast LTE adoption stats, this says NOTHING about the lag of the carrier’s once main service – the humble voice call.

Today, in almost all cases where you open your smartphone greeted with an LTE network, if you make a phone call, it will go over 3G or GSM. Why? Because for voice to traverse LTE it requires VoLTE – or some other workaround means. Once VoLTE makes it into the scene, it will need to replace the voice calls today – and be a part of the smartphone’s dialer.

But there are other means of making calls these days, and I am not talking about Skype buddy lists.

Here is how the different players on the market redefining how we make calls, and trying to win the real-estate of the phone’s dialer by… replacing it.


In some ways, Apple is dependent on carriers selling its smartphones through contract agreements. So it can’t piss off their channel to market too much. But they can are treading on a very fine line here.

It started with FaceTime. Apple’s video chat service. Which then grew to iMessage, and later an introduction of FaceTime Audio.

Apple controls the iPhone’s UI, which means it decides how the dialer looks like and what functions it exposes to the user.

The end result?

  • When you want to send an SMS to someone, Apple will automatically “convert” it to an iMessage if possible
  • When you want to make a call to someone, if he uses an Apple device, you have the option to call him – voice or video – using FaceTime

Google has Hangouts. You get it pre-installed in Android devices. Many never use it, but it is there.

Google tried making Hangouts sticky in the past, so they allowed it to receive and send SMS – similar in some ways to how Apple does iMessage, but different as the experience isn’t as seamless.

On a mobile phone, think of Hangouts as a step in the way. Google’s Project Fi, their new MVNO initiative, probably uses Hangouts internally – it does connect with Hangouts as their website explains:

Connect any device that supports Google Hangouts (Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, or Chromebook) to your number. Then, talk and text with anyone—it doesn’t matter what device they’re using.

Google is bulking up its communication chops nicely these past few years, and Fi is the next step. I am certain that part of the tech and learnings that Google gains from Fi will find its way back to their general Hangouts service.


Facebook had its share of romance with mobile. From rumors of Facebook smartphones, to a failed Facebook Home app.

For Facebook mobile is critical. Many of its customers use it exclusively on mobile. How do you increase your share in a digital life pie if you are Facebook? You try to control the smartphone experience.

Building a smartphone is hard (ask Amazon), so Facebook tried controlling the home screen by developing a Facebook centric Android launcher. This didn’t work, but wasn’t a failure at the scale of a smartphone launch.

Next up, is their relatively new Hello app. It looks rather innocuous – you receive calls through their Hello app to get a “social ID” – Facebook will match the phone number to a person’s Facebook account to show to you on incoming calls.

The end result?

  • Facebook Hello is used as your smartphone’s calling app
  • They didn’t miss the opportunity of adding their own dialer in – which enables you to call via Messenger
Whatsapp (still Facebook)

Whatsapp is a part of Facebook, but it took a very different approach. It simply added voice calling to its app.

If you are interested in understanding the size of Whatsapp, then there’s a good bulleted list on Mobile Industry Review.

Think of this move in the following context:

  • As of April 2015, WhatsApp has more than 800 million active users
  • Average amount of time spent by users on WhatsApp is 195 minutes a week
  • Teenagers use Whatsapp all the time. At least here in Israel. They don’t talk – they text. Faced with the need to escalate a text chat to a voice call – will they switch app and context or just press the phone icon on the Whatsapp page?

What is your dialer now? The traditional phone dialer with its contacts app or Whatsapp?

Why is it important?

Communication is being redefined. Switching from voice and video towards data access and messaging.

This brings with it a bigger change of what is considered prime real estate on one smartphone’s display, and there are non-telco vendors who are positioned nicely to displace the carriers from the dialer as well. Where would that leave the carrier’s efforts with VoLTE?


Kranky and I are planning the next Kranky Geek in San Francisco sometime during the fall. Interested in speaking? Just ping me through my contact page.

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Why You Should Start Using WebRTC TODAY and Abandon Perfection?

Thu, 06/18/2015 - 12:00

To paraphrase Seth Godin, WebRTC is about breaking things.

Seth Godin (who you should definitely read) had an interesting post this week, titled Abandoning perfection. It is short so go over and read it. I’ll just put one of the paragraphs of this post here, to serve as my context:

Perfect is the ideal defense mechanism, the work of Pressfield’s Resistance, the lizard brain giving you an out. Perfect lets you stall, ask more questions, do more reviews, dumb it down, safe it up and generally avoid doing anything that might fail (or anything important).

Now that we have it here, why don’t we check on the excuses people (and companies) give for not using WebRTC?

  • “Microsoft and Apple don’t support it”
    • Do you have any better idea on how to do video calling in browsers? Because I don’t
    • And there are WebRTC plugins for those who want them in Safari and IE
    • There are also those who can live with Chrome and Firefox use cases only
  • “You can’t do multiparty calls with it”
    • This is true for any client side VoIP solution. They require a server
    • And since WebRTC is a technology, it is up to you to come up with the solution and implement server side multiparty
    • Join my webinar next week with TokBox on this subject while you’re at it…
  • “There’s no quality of service”
    • No VoIP service has quality of service
    • WebRTC changes nothing in this regard
    • And people are still happy to use Skype (!) for their business meetings
  • “Without signaling, it can’t interoperate with anything else”
    • True. WebRTC comes without signaling
    • Which means you can add your own – SIP, XMPP or anything you fancy. To fit your exact need and use case
    • In many cases, interoperability is overrated anyway, and building your own service silo is good enough
  • “Mobile First, iOS First. Apple not there, so no way I can use WebRTC”
    • You’ll be surprised how many commercial iOS production apps there are that use WebRTC
    • That’s why I even published a report on WebRTC adoption in mobile apps

Got a lizard brain? Make sure you use the excuses above in the next weekly meeting with your boss. Want to break things and be useful? Check out what WebRTC can do for you.

Oh, and when someone tells you that WebRTC isn’t ready for prime time yet, but will be in 2-3 years – and a lot sooner than you expect – tell him it is ready. Today.

I’ve seen companies using WebRTC daily – in ways that advances their business – adding more flexibility – enabling them to make better decisions – lowers their costs – or allow them to exist in the first place.

Got a good use case that requires real time communications? First check if WebRTC fits your needs – REALLY check. 80% or more of the time – it will.


Planning on introducing WebRTC to your existing service? Schedule your free strategy session with me now.

Trying to understand how to get your service to mobile with WebRTC? Read my WebRTC Mobile Adoption report, written specifically to assist you with this task.

Want to make the best decision on the right WebRTC platform for your company? Now you can! Check out my WebRTC PaaS report, written specifically to assist you with this task.

Kranky and I are planning the next Kranky Geek in San Francisco sometime during the fall. Interested in speaking? Just ping me through my contact page.

Looking for a WebRTC related job? Need the best WebRTC developer out there? You should definitely try out the WebRTC Job Board - satisfaction guaranteed!

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Comverse Acquires Acision, Framing Digital an APIs Around WebRTC

Tue, 06/16/2015 - 12:00

Is Comverse becoming a serious WebRTC player?

Comverse is a company in transition. It has been catering the world’s telcos for many years. In recent years, it had its share of issues. Why are they important in the context of this blog?

  1. They acquired Solaiemes. But that was in August 2014. Almost a year ago
  2. Less than 2 months ago, Comverse sold its BSS business to Amdocs
  3. Yesterday, it acquired Acision, for around $210M
What does this say about Comverse?

Comverse is a company searching for their way. Their current focus is digital services with the set of customers being Telcos.

Digital focus means APIs and platforms that enable rapid creation of services.

The interesting part here is that Comverse is getting a sales team and an operation that knows how to sell to enterprises and not only to Telcos. I do hope they will be smart enough to keep that part of the business alive and leverage it.

Open questions include: Will Comverse merge Acision assets with Solaiemes? Try to build one on top of the other?

What does this say about Acision?

Acision got acquired for their SMS and voice business more than for their WebRTC or API platform components. No one gets acquired for that much money for WebRTC. Yet.

It is funny to note that Acision Forge platform, which runs their WebRTC PaaS part, was an acquisition of Crocodile RCS.

Comverse being focused on Telcos, how will they view the Forge platform?

  • As something to be sold to carriers or through carriers? This means taking the route that Tropo took in recent years
  • Would they try to leverage it and expand their offering to enterprises in other areas?
  • Will Comverse management understand the enterprise business enough to try and let it grow unhindered?
Why is this important?

This isn’t the first or last WebRTC related acquisition of the year. We had a few already.

If you are looking to use any vendor for your WebRTC technology, you need to consider the possibility of acquisition seriously.

It also led me to updating my WebRTC dataset subscription service: as of today, its subscribers also receive an updated acquisitions table, detailing all acquisitions related to WebRTC since 2012.


Want to make the best decision on the right WebRTC platform for your company? Now you can! Check out my WebRTC PaaS report, written specifically to assist you with this task.

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LinkedIn – Where are Thou with WebRTC?

Mon, 06/15/2015 - 12:00

I’d expect LinkedIn to add WebRTC already.

Last week, I received an email from LinkedIn. Apparently, they acquired a learning company called Lynda. It did beg the question, with so many WebRTC acquisitions – where is LinkedIn in all this?

The company deals with professionals, revolving around a digital CV. They enable people to connect in order to conduct business. So why do they want me to revert to things like phone calls or Skype in 2015?

They an internal messaging/email system. Not the best one. Probably requires an overhaul to be an effective tool. So where’s the rest of my interactions with people? Where’s the “click here to call” or “schedule a meeting”?

LiveNinja tried being an experts marketplace. An aggregator of people with skillz. You searching for a guitar teacher? A developer for advice? A yoga lesson? Search them on LiveNinja, interact, schedule a meeting. Hell, it even allows you to pay online (taking part of that revenue and giving the rest to the expert). It is now morphing into Katana, leaving its aggregator vision towards embeddable experiences.

Google Helpouts tried and closed shop. Something to do with it trying to be everything for everyone.

But you know what? LinkedIn can be that marketplace for many. Easily. It already is. It just needs to have that integration with real time communication. Be it for communicating between professionals or for conducting job interviews as part of its jobs board.

So where is it exactly? Am I the only one missing a blue “Call me” button in LinkedIn? Should I make do with their posts platform?

There are over 20 different expert marketplaces using WebRTC at the moment. None of them has the reach of LinkedIn. Would be nice if LinkedIn acquired one of them and be done with it.


Planning on introducing WebRTC to your existing service? Schedule your free strategy session with me now.

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Join me for a Free TokBox Webinar to Learn More About WebRTC Multiparty

Fri, 06/12/2015 - 15:52

See you on June 24!

Just a quick note before we head into the weekend.

I’ve partnered with TokBox for a webinar on the various use cases where multiparty video calling is desired.

The webinar will address an area I love, which is the various topologies and architectures to choose from when dealing with multiparty video. Badri Rajasekar, CTO of TokBox, will be there with me and we’re planning to have an interesting conversation.

If this topic is close to your heart, or just something you wish to learn more about – register online – it’s free.

See you online on 24 June at 10:00am PDT. And if you can’t make it – just register to watch it offline.

The post Join me for a Free TokBox Webinar to Learn More About WebRTC Multiparty appeared first on

Book Review: WebRTC Cookbook

Thu, 06/11/2015 - 12:00

If you are looking for some quick WebRTC recipes, then this is the book for you.

Consider this another post in a series of posts about WebRTC related books. To see previous  reviews, check out the search tag book review.

The WebRTC Cookbook is the second book by Andrii Sergiienko. His first book was WebRTC Blueprints, was a hard core book – the first one with guts to take WebRTC books to the extreme topics at that time.

WebRTC Cookbook takes a more orderly approach, where Andrii picks several topics and explains them briefly, in a step by step manual. He also provides good follow up material for those who wish to learn more.

Things you will find in this book:

  • Peer connection related topic, with the interesting bits in the STUN and TURN configuration
  • Security issues – HTTPS, TURN server security, firewalls, etc.
  • VoIP – integrating with Asterisk and FreeSWITCH
  • Debugging – stats, webrtc-internals, Wireshark, …
  • Video filters (unfortunately no audio ones)
  • Native apps – iOS, Android and
  • Integrating with some of the WebRTC frameworks and services out there
  • “advanced” stuff – things you’d want to do to add polish to your service

This is a good book for your WebRTC library. It acts as a nice reference to go to when you need to quickly skim a topic.


Kranky and I are planning the next Kranky Geek in San Francisco sometime during the fall. Interested in speaking? Just ping me through my contact page.

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WebRTC Infographic: Are we at a Tipping Point?

Tue, 06/09/2015 - 12:00

Most probably yes.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been working with people from the AT&T Developer Program on an Infographic. The idea behind it was to show the progress that WebRTC made in the past couple of years, trying to understand if it is time for people to join in. If you have been following me, you know that my answer is “start yesterday” when it comes to WebRTC.

The result is the WebRTC Infographic below:

For more information and some more verbosity around it, check out AT&T’s blog post on this WebRTC Infographic.

Kranky and I are planning the next Kranky Geek in San Francisco sometime during the fall. Interested in speaking? Just ping me through my contact page.

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WebRTC Related Acquisitions in Acceleration Mode

Mon, 06/08/2015 - 12:00

Another week, another WebRTC related acquisition took place.

Since the Tropo acquisition just a month ago, we had two more acquisitions:

  1. Fuze acquired LiveMinutes – that at the same time it raised $20M more. Fuze itself made use of WebRTC as an access point to its video conferencing service, and LiveMinutes focused on collaboration and used WebRTC for video chat
  2. Broadsoft acquired mPortal – an outsourcing vendor focusing on mobile communication apps, catering large enterprises and telcos

When Atlassian acquired Jitsi I was a bit worried. We were nearing the end of April with only 3 acquisitions in 2015. With 8 acquisitions in 2014, this looked like another “boring” year. Well… we’re now into the 7th acquisition of 2015 when it comes to WebRTC and we’re almost 6 months in.

The chart below shows the WebRTC related acquisitions we’ve had since WebRTC’s inception. We are growing steadily.

Most of the acquisitions this year are similar to the ones last year – they are about acquiring the market, the business models and the technology.  Only two of them have been technology/acquihires (ScreenHero and Jitsi).

How will the second half if this year shape out to be? Which kind of vendors are we going to see acquired next?

This is shaping up to be a pretty interesting year for WebRTC.

Customers of my WebRTC Dataset Subscription Plan will have access to detailed acquisition information from later this month.

Planning on introducing WebRTC to your existing service? Schedule your free strategy session with me now.


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