Featured Article from Conferencing

Amazon Chime to Take on Conferencing

February 16, 2017

Just as retailers the world over grow cold at the notion of Amazon getting into a particular market, so too should conferencing services from Skype where Web-based real time communications (WebRTC) extensions are concerned. The reason for the chill is simple; Amazon's getting into the conferencing market with its new Chime system.

Amazon Chime is poised to work on several different platforms, including both major desktops—Windows and macOS—as well as the two major mobile systems, Android and iOS. Chime promises that users will be able to quickly swap from one platform to another, moving from desktop to mobile device even while a conference is in mid-running. The audio and video quality is said to be top notch, and since Chime is built on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform, it should offer stability to spare.

While this would be a disaster for most conferencing services, Amazon offered a note of hope, at least in the short term, by revealing its pricing structure. The basic system, Amazon Chime Basic, would be available free, while Plus service would run $2.50 per user per month. Plus includes screen sharing and directory integration for the added value. Meanwhile, Pro service would run a whopping $15 per user per month, but would improve on Plus' service in a big way by offering scheduling and recording tools as well as service for up to 100 users at once.

The free service, meanwhile, only offers one-on-one video chat, which means many consumer-facing services will have an edge on Chime right out of the gate. That's good news for every other service out there, as it's clear that Chime won't be even trying to compete in the early going. Business-focused clients may have a bigger problem.

Clearly, Chime is targeting larger businesses, businesses that may not be quite as impressed with the Amazon name as would be the case with other, more established names. However, that connection to AWS could be a real lifesaver here, as it's well-known in the field for providing excellent results. The pricing may well turn smaller businesses off, but anyone who's buying for a system that can handle 100 users at once may not have such a problem with that price tag.

In the end, only time will really tell how this works out for Amazon. There are sufficient factors on both sides of the pro / con matrix to make this a real tossup, and though it's got the Amazon name and credibility as well as the features set, it's breaking into an entrenched market where many conferencing decisions have already been made. This could be a winner, or a disaster, depending on how the business community's perceptions play out.

Edited by Alicia Young