It’s official: Amazon Web Services (AWS), a subsidiary of Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN), has stepped into the Unified Communications (UC) ring with its new offering, the Amazon Chime. The launch followed months of speculation that the cloud computing giant was preparing to make its presence felt in the cloud communications arena alongside competitors like Cisco WebEx, Google Hangouts, and Microsoft Skype for Business, as well as pure-play Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) providers like RingCentral, 8x8, and Fuze.
For Frustration-free Online Meetings
In a statement, Gene Farrell, Vice President of Enterprise Applications at AWS, said that most businesses find it difficult to find an excellent meeting tool that actually helps them meet and get things done. Traditional meeting and productivity tools were often clunky, hard to use, and only supported one or two modes of communication, which didn’t make things any better.
"It's pretty hard to find people who actually like the technology they use for meetings today. Most meeting applications or services are hard to use, deliver bad audio and video, require constant switching between multiple tools to do everything they want and are way too expensive," said Farrell.
"Amazon Chime delivers frustration-free meetings, allowing users to be productive from anywhere. And with no ongoing maintenance or management fees, Amazon Chime is a great choice for companies that are looking for a solution to meetings that their employees will love to use,” he added. Users simply have to download the Amazon Chime app and can start using it within minutes.
Below are some of the important features of Amazon Chime:
- On-Time Meetings - Unlike other meeting solutions, Amazon Chime makes it easier for users to dial into meetings. Instead of typing long and hard to remember meeting identifiers or passwords, users can join meetings in a single click or tap. The app also alerts users when a meeting is about to start and lets users notify other meeting participants when they are running late in a single click or tap.
- Meeting Roster - Through the app, users will be able to see who has joined the meeting, who is running late, who can’t make it, as well as who is currently speaking. Users can also access mute controls to get rid of distracting background noise.
- Broad Access - Amazon Chime comes with user-friendly, easy to use apps for Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows, helping users work from literally anywhere.
- Easy Sharing - To make collaboration a breeze, Amazon Chime allows for easy screen and file sharing by simply attaching them in a meeting, chat, or chat room.
- Clear Calls - Meetings and conversations are best enjoyed when audio and video are clear. Amazon Chime leverages noise-cancelling wideband audio and high-definition video to enable real, natural online conversations.
Plans and Pricing
Amazon offers the Chime service into three different plans: Basic, Plus, and Pro. View all of the features and benefits of their plans below:
|Basic - Free
||Plus - $2.50 per user per month
||Pro - $15 per user per month
|Video calls for up to 2 people
||Basic plan features and:
||Plus plan features and:
|Chat and chat rooms
||Video calls up to 100 people
|1:1 Video meetings
||Remote desktop control
||Schedule and host meetings
|1:1 Voice calls
||Message history up to 1GB/user
||IT user management and user reports
||Personalized meeting URLs
|Message history up to 3 0 days
||Active directory integration
||Compatible with conference room video systems
||Join meetings using standard phone line
AWS offers a free 30-day trial for Chime Pro, with no credit card required. Once the free trial expires, users may continue to use Chime Basic for free or purchase Amazon Chime Pro for $15.00 per user per month. Like most AWS services, users may also change or cancel their subscription at any time.
UC - A Tough Market to Crack?
At first glance, it seems that Chime has most of the same capabilities are already offered by other UC solutions, such as 8x8, Broadsoft, CounterPath, Fuze, and more. Various market watchers have also expressed that Amazon may be a little late to the game as two of its biggest competitors, Microsoft and Google, are already well established in the space. Hence, Amazon may have a hard time penetrating the market with its new UC service. Nevertheless, it is not entirely impossible for Chime to change the competitive landscape as the UCaaS market continues to grow.
Markets and Markets predicts that the UCaaS market will grow from USD 17.35 Billion in 2016 to USD 28.69 Billion by 2021, which would represent a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.6%. The research firm also pointed out that the major drivers of the market include low cost of ownership, pay-per-use model, mobility and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), integration of all communication services in a single platform, increasing SMB demand, and continuous service support.
Given the predicted growth of the UCaaS market, Chime still has an opportunity to grab their piece of the pie. Bern Elliot, an analyst at Gartner, also said that despite the competition, “AWS has the financial resources and the clout with enterprises to grab share in the unified communications and collaboration market.” Chime has the advantage of the power, stability, and reputation of the AWS infrastructure behind it, making it attractive to companies. Furthermore, AWS has wisely tapped its partners Level 3 and Vonage to offer Chime as part of their communications portfolio, beginning in the second quarter.
"By providing Amazon Chime to Vonage business customers at no additional cost, they will now have access to Amazon Chime's innovative, easy-to-use web-conferencing and collaboration suite, which is a perfect complement to Vonage's robust portfolio of unified communications solutions for greater mobility, flexibility, and workplace productivity," said Alan Masarek, Chief Executive Officer, Vonage.
To learn more about Amazon Chime or to sign up for the service, please visit their website.
About Amazon Web Services
Amazon Web Services, an Amazon.com company, offers a suite of reliable and scalable computing services. Offering one of the world's most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform, AWS is trusted by millions of customers in 190 countries around the world. They have recently entered the cloud communications space with their latest UC offering, the Amazon Chime.