Macromedia Looks to Make Web Conferencing a Breeze

Tuesday Sep 7th 2004 by Dan Muse
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The San Francisco-based software provider announces new pricing plans designed to make its Flash-based Macromedia Breeze Live Web conferencing hosted service attractive to to small and mid-size businesses.

Web conferencing — technology that allow businesses to conduct online meetings, deliver presentations and collaborate with colleagues — hasn't yet trickled down to the ranks of the typical small business. Macromedia hopes to open SMB's eyes to its Web conferencing platform with new pricing policies announced today.

The two benefits of Macromedia Breeze Live for SMBs is that for 32-cents-per-user-per-minute in a pay-as-you-go pricing model they can now have access to the same product used by enterprise customers.

The other advantage, according to Tom Hale, senior vice president and general manager of communications at Macromedia, is that the product is based on Flash technology, which is installed on 98 percent of all computers, he said. This means users do not need to download client software so "presentations take no time to set up." The two factors add up to a conferencing on-demand model, Hale said. "It's available to anyone with a credit card."

To date, its Macromedia Breeze Live product, which was announced last year, has been used by larger customers such as American Express, Federal Express, McDonald's Canada, SBC and TicketMaster, according the San Francisco-based company. However, by having access to the same feature set as enterprise customers, a "small business can appear bigger" to the outside world, Hale said.

The advantages of looking like a larger company to outsiders are well-proven in the business world, Hale said. "When you visit a small business, the two places they spend money on are the lobby and the conference room. Now they can also have the Web presence of a larger company."

Hale said he envisions SMBs using Macromedia Breeze Live for online meetings among colleagues and partners, marketing activities that call for a one-to-many presentation. Businesses can also store the presentations as Webcasts, which they can make available from their Web site for customers who "knock on your door" looking for information.

One of attractions of Macromedia's new pricing policy is that once an account is established, you can maintain what Hale describes as the "persistence of meeting rooms," a feature designed to ensure that recurring sales and client meetings have the needed material (e.g. PowerPoint presentations, documents and so on) for every meeting without requiring setup and configuration time.


Macromedia Breeze Live
Macromedia Breeze Live is designed to offer enterprise-class features such as video conferencing and white boarding at prices a small business can afford.

A large source of potential customers for Macromedia Breeze Live are the small businesses that already use Macromedia products as DreamWeaver, Director, Fireworks and so on. In addition to the 32-cents-per-minute per-user pricing model, Macromedia will also offer 5- and 10-seat plans that costs $75 a month per seat for unlimited meetings.

WebEx, the company that helped introduce the concept of Web-based conferencing to the business world, provides per-use pricing at 33 cents a minute. It also offers an Express version of its hosted product at $375 per month for five users, which features "the basics to get you started," according the company's Web site.

Dan Muse is executive editor of internet.com's Small Business Channel and EarthWeb's Networking & Communications Channel.

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