The first question we inevitably get from potential investors is, ‘Why, when there are seemingly so many alternatives, did we decide to build a voice and video chat tool?’
To be clear, building a phone in the browser was not what we set out to do. We originally wanted to provide contextual data to the people making and receiving calls. We thought it odd, that with all the data now available, why do we still get just a phone number, and if we are lucky, a name when someone calls us?
To address this problem, we started building a product we codenamed Scout. The concept of Scout was us to pull data from multiple sources, and then use fuzzy logic to distill it down to provide users with accurate, useful information about their calls. It worked beautifully. We ran into issues however, while attempting to present this intelligence to users in real-time. There were no phones, soft or otherwise that can practically display the information to users, and allow them to speak on the phone at the same time. There was simply no room to present the data.
After an unsuccessful search for a suitable platform to present the Scout data, we set about building our own. Our solution was the build the voice and video chat into the browser itself. The browser is the most logical choice to deliver both calls and the contextual data for the following reasons:
If the computer is on, the browser is most likely running
A browser allows data to be presented in an easy-to-use and visually pleasing manner
Once we started using it, we quickly realized how much more convenient it was to use our browser to make and receive calls. Not only did it leave both our hands free to type or take notes, but as we do most of our work in the browser anyway, it just made sense to make and receive our calls there too.
So why did we build a FireRTC? FireRTC was built because no mobile phone, desk phone, or desktop app can come close to matching the rich presentation of the web browser while simultaneously allowing the user to easily voice or video chat.