Amazon Releases Cloud-Based Video Calling Service Called Chime

Amazon's new video calling app Chime
Amazon's new cloud-based video calling service Chime aims to compete with rivals WebEx and Skype. Photo : Amazon Web Services / YouTube

On Monday, Feb. 13, Amazon announced a unified communications as a service (UCaaS) called Chime. The video calling service hosted in Amazon Web Service's cloud is the latest enterprise app from Amazon, aiming to compete with Google and Microsoft offering in the cloud.

Amazon's Chime Video Calling Service

According to Network World, Amazon is entering a crowded market of UC solutions, some of which are running on customer premises and some are being already cloud-based. Nevertheless, tech experts believe that Amazon has a real opportunity here. Its cloud-based video calling service Chime uses a desktop or mobile application that is available on Windows, Android, and iOS environments.

According to PC World, the new Amazon service is designed to compete with the likes of GoToMeeting, Skype for Business and WebEx. The public cloud provider's move aims to enter a competition on a market dominated by some very entrenched enterprise software players. Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched the video calling service Chime-based on an infrastructure located in the U.S. However, according to Gene Farrell, AWS's vice president of enterprise applications, the new Amazon service can be accessed worldwide.

Both Google and Microsoft have strong offerings across infrastructure as a service, as well as enterprise applications. Google has its G Suite of work apps and Microsoft has Office 365. In the UC space, Google has Hangouts and Microsoft has Skype for Business. Before launching Chime, Amazon did not have any competing UC offering.

Chime's Main Features

In order to deliver high-quality audio and video experiences, Chime uses noise-canceling wideband audio. Chime calls all the participants when a meeting starts. There is no PIN required and participants can join only by clicking a button.

In order to eliminate the "who just joined" questions that often occur on conference calls, Chime shows a visual roster of all attendees. A noisy participant can be muted by any user. Advanced editions of Chime allow integrating it with existing corporate directories and give IT the possibility to centrally manage settings and users.

Chime can be accessed on a pay-as-you-go licensing model that is based on how much the service is used within an organization, while most of the other UCaaS offerings require seats and licensing contracts. A Basic edition of Chime that allows users to attend meetings and make audio and video calls comes free of charge. A Plus edition that adds some user management features such as retaining up to 1GB of message history per user and linking Chime to an Active Directory can be accessed based on a $2.50 per user per month subscription.

Chime also provides a Pro Plan that includes unlimited Voice over IP (VoIP) and allows screen sharing for up to 100 users. The Chime Pro Plan can be accessed based on a $15 per user per month subscription. For conference call dial-ins there is also a rate per minute. This is $0.012 for toll-free and $0.003 for calls inside the U.S.

Chime could be downloaded and used by anyone. When it is generally released in the second quarter, Vonage and Amazon partners Level 3 will offer supported versions of it. Amazon's entrance into the UCaaS market will better position the company to compete with two of its biggest rivals, Google and Microsoft.

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