Amazon Chimes into video-conferencing: Look out, Skype, Google

See this, Cisco?

Amazon has opened a new front in its battle for enterprise applications against Microsoft, Google and Cisco.

The giant has unveiled Chime – a cloud-based unified voice, video and chat communications service targeting corporate IT as much as end users. Chime will, Amazon claims, eliminate common frustrations found in video-chat meetings.

Participants can join meetings simply by tapping a button - no need for PIN - Chime maintains a roster of call attendees, and Chime will synchronise across desktop and mobile. The planned service will work on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.

Amazon has promised “high-quality video, voice, chat and screen sharing.” With an eye on corporate IT, however, Amazon said Chime would work with Microsoft’s ubiquitous Active Directory for access and identity control.

Amazon is planning three editions – Basic, Plus and Pro – that will store message histories – up to 1Gb per user - with a number of attendees from two to 100.

Basic is free for the first two people and features chat and chat rooms, Plus is priced at $2.50 a month and will add screen-sharing and work with corporate directories, and Pro at $15 a month will include video meetings for up to 100 people.

Amazon’s signed Level 3 and Vonage to deliver Chime in the second quarter – Vonage business customers will get Pro for free. Amazon made its name in enterprise IT thanks to AWS, which has turned a marketplace into a provider of platform technologies. The firm has largely tackled infrastructure – compute, storage, data – but is increasingly is moving into apps with WorkSpaces and Space Needle analytics.

Integrated messaging is a field Microsoft is seeking to dominate by leveraging its Office presence and brand. After its purchase of Skype, Microsoft has rolled out Skype for Business for group audio and video calls.

The service starts at around $2.00 per user a month for basic, as ever with Microsoft that’s the vanilla service and the real value comes through the standard confusing smorgasbord of Redmond’s licence plans.

Running with a variety of price packages per user a month, Microsoft’s different offers pack in Office apps, file and data storage and sharing and other features.

Cisco has long been in communications. Its Spark service starts as a free app and is currently available for $12.00 per user per month for three people per call with screen-sharing and integration with Microsoft’s Exchange, Outlook and Active Directory.

The insurgent has been Google with its Hangouts, which starts at $5 per month and comes with video and voice conferencing, plus 30GB of storage.

Just as Microsoft has tried to leverage Office, so Google has attempted to do with its email and apps. Hangouts ties into Gmail and shared calendars.

Business edition runs at $10 per month and features unlimited storage and archiving while Google’s Enterprise edition features advanced controls and is priced off-plan. ®

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