University of Cambridge > > Computer Laboratory Systems Research Group Seminar > Why is Zoom so much more popular than standards-based videoconferencing?

Why is Zoom so much more popular than standards-based videoconferencing?

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Video conferencing has been around since the 1990s, first based on ISDN for digital phone systems, then H.323, and then SIP for the Internet. The underlying assumption was that phone calls and group communications would all rely on the same standards, creating a universal and seamless user experience. But even as COVID -19 made Zoom a generic term, these standards-based solutions never got much traction. Even for the popular applications, WebRTC seems to have made modest inroads. In this talk, I’ll try to reflect on the reasons for this development, and why other standards-based internet applications such as web browsers and email have been more successful. Video conferencing also shares this “fate” with text-based chat, where standards-based solutions are competing with WhatsApp, Slack and other proprietary platforms. I believe that transition from (room) hardware to downloadable software, control protocol complexity, industry structure and communication patterns are at least partial explanations for this development. Finally, I will speculate on how video interaction might evolve in the next few years.

Bio: Henning Schulzrinne was the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for the United States Federal Communications Commission, having been appointed to that role on December 19, 2011 to 2014.Previously he was chair and Julian Clarence Levi Professor of the Computer Science department at Columbia University. He is a co-chair of the Internet Technical Committee of the IEEE Communications Society.

Schulzrinne studied engineering management at the Department of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology of the German Technische Universit├Ąt Darmstadt in Darmstadt, where he earned his Vordiplom (cf. Diplom), then went on to earn his M.Sc. at the University of Cincinnati and his Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Schulzrinne has contributed to standards. He co-designed the Session Initiation Protocol along with Mark Handley, the Real Time Streaming Protocol, the Real-time Transport Protocol, the General Internet Signaling Transport Protocol, part of the Next Steps in Signaling protocol suite. He was elected as an ACM Fellow (2014) for contributions to the design of protocols, applications, and algorithms for Internet multimedia.

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Systems Research Group Seminar series.

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