The enterprise will serve as Twelephone’s business model. The idea: a customer with a problem with a product or service gets reached through Twitter. The consumer gets a voice or video call by clicking on a link in a tweet.
WebRTC will soon be available on Firefox and Opera. Microsoft says it is on their roadmap. Apple has not said if WebRTC will be supported in Safari. With WebRTC, Twelephone Founder Chris Matthieu says his service can capture the microphone and camera on a user’s computer — all on high-definition audio and video without the middleman. No Flash is needed. Instead, the P2P network offers the capability to create data channels, such as audio and video, instant messaging, and file transfers. It provides a secure, encrypted connection.
Twelephone is built on Node.js and is a single-page application, which is becoming increasingly popular with enterprise apps. It uses web sockets over a Chrome extension. Web sockets provide a constant data connection between the app and the server. Calls through the service can only be made to people who authenticate their Twitter accounts to Twelephone.
Matthieu said he has wanted to develop something like Twelephone for the past 10 years but not using Flash. WebRTC is different. It requires no intermediary technology and it’s native to the browser.
Further, Matthieu says Twitter is simply the most rock-solid messaging platform in the world on which to build a voice and video service. Matthieu has some authority in this regard. He has worked in the telecommunications world for a good bit of his career. In 2010, he sold telephony API developer Teleku to Voxeo. In terms of the platform itself, Matthieu is one of the leading experts on Node.js. He started developing with it on version 0.2 and created a Node.js platform as a service (PaaS), which he sold last year to AppFog.
Matthieu cites the $1.3 trillion telecommunications market as good a reason as any for the viability of a Twitter-connected telephone. He says Twelephone does that by making it easier to communicate online using richer media and stronger security.
How Twelephone makes a business out of the service is still a question. He expects to add more collaboration features such as whiteboard capabilities. He also plans to add enterprise features for companies that need to route Twelephone calls to the next available agent online like an ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) system, as well as the ability to add Yellow Page listings to the directory for a listing fee.
Cool service. Its challenge is the need for wider adoption of WebRTC so it is usable on multiple platforms. Safari has not given any WebRTC dates yet. Chrome on iOS is based on Safari (so no) but Chrome on Andriod with WebRTC is coming soon.
So, it’s really not a matter of if this kind of service is viable — it’s just a matter of when.