Friday, June 18, 2004

AOL offers at voice and Web conferencing

AOL announced last week two new services will be launched from the AOL free Instant Messenger client (AIM). One will be AOL Web Conferencing (i.e. VoIP or audio through the Internet) provided by Lightbridge, and AOL Web Meeting, provided by WebEx.

"The AIM service plays an important role in accelerating business communications, and many of the two billion daily instant messages sent on our network progress into telephone calls and meetings," said Ed Fish, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Desktop Messaging, America Online, Inc. "At work users now have a seamless way to move from one-to-one exchanges to new shared and collaborative experiences through AIM. Presence and real-time communications help boost efficiency, making the AIM service an even more valuable business tool."

The new services don't come for free though. In order to start a web meeting session, you'll need to set up a debit account with a credit card . However, I think this pay-as-you-go model is an excellent idea. I believe it's an important move because it will extend the capabilities of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and bring them closer to these type of collaborative technologies without the need to allocate a big budget for it. This way, SMEs will be able to have a go at these tools and learn about their own collaboration requirements, and to answer some of those difficult questions (i.e. what type of functionality do we require in a conferencing tool to effectively collaborate with our geographically distributed partners and customers? Are these tools good enough to save us some money and time from traveling?

The services can be accesed via AIM @Work. Pricing per participant:

Online Meeting: $.33/min
Call-in Teleconferencing: $.05/min
Call-back Teleconferencing: $.20/min

America Online, Inc. Launches AIM Business Services

read on Business Wire press-release


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