Amazon is looking to transform just about every industry.
Now, the Seattle tech juggernaut wants to reinvent how you conduct meetings and conference calls.
Amazon Web Services today unveiled Chime, a new service that it says takes the “frustration out of meetings” by delivering video, voice, chat, and screen sharing. Instead of forcing participants to call one another on a dedicated line, Amazon Chime automatically calls all participants at the start of a meeting, so “joining a meeting is as easy as clicking a button in the app, no PIN required,” the company said in a press release. Chime also shows a visual roster of participants, and allows participants to pinpoint who exactly on the call is creating annoying background noise.
GeekWire first noted Amazon’s intentions to go after the communications market last fall when we reported on the company’s acquisition of Biba, a San Francisco-based maker of chat, video and audio conferencing tools for businesses.
At the time, we speculated that Amazon could be building a product to compete with other workplace communication tools like Slack, Skype, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams and others. Amazon and Biba representatives did not return our calls at the time of that story last November, but now it is clear that Biba forms the backbone of Chime.
Visitors to the Biba Web site now see this message: “Biba has been replaced by Amazon Chime. Visit chime.aws to learn more.”
“It’s pretty hard to find people who actually like the technology they use for meetings today,” said Gene Farrell, Vice President, Enterprise Applications at AWS in a press release. “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.”
Chime is a direct swipe at Microsoft’s Skype and Google Hangouts, signaling yet another area of turf that the tech juggernauts appear to be doing battle.
Amazon Chime is available for free in a basic version, which includes video calls for up to two people. A more advanced service, Plus, which includes screen sharing and access to corporate directories, is available for $2.50 per user per month. A pro version is available for $15 per month, which allows video meetings for up to 100 people and personal meeting URLs.
Here’s the promotional video that Amazon release announcing the service:
And here’s the full press release that Amazon put out this evening:
New unified communications service delivers frustration-free meetings with exceptional video and audio quality
Brooks Brothers, Level 3, and Vonage among the early users and partners
SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Feb. 14, 2017– Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an Amazon.com company (NASDAQ: AMZN), today announced Amazon Chime, a new unified communications service that makes meetings easier and more efficient than ever before.
With Amazon Chime, customers can start high-quality video and audio meetings with one-click, allowing customers to host or join a meeting, chat, and share content and screens with a seamless, synchronized experience across desktops, iOS, and Android devices. To get started with Amazon Chime, visit https://chime.aws.
In a world where meeting attendees are often not in the same city, much less the same office building, unified communications has become increasingly more important. Arguably the most prevalent form of unified communications is meetings.
Most meetings solutions are disappointing. They’re clunky and hard to use, the video is grainy and disconnects frequently, the audio quality is poor, there’s constant background noise and it’s impossible to know who’s causing it, they require long PINs to enter and join a call, and have second-rate mobile features and apps. Further, most are only good at one thing (e.g. voice calls, video conferencing, screen sharing, or instant messaging), so users often have to toggle between several different tools, none of which really solve their problem.
Amazon Chime takes frustration out of meetings, delivering very high quality video, voice, chat, and screen sharing. Amazon Chime calls all participants when a meeting starts so joining a meeting is as easy as clicking a button in the app, no PIN required.
When there’s noise on calls (think about how often somebody has to say things like “could you please stop typing so close to the speaker”) or somebody joins or drops mid-call, there’s no longer mystery who it is as Amazon Chime shows a visual roster of all attendees. And, any attendee has the power to put an end to background noise by muting any noisy line. Amazon Chime offers strong mobile and desktop apps, and keeps meetings and chats synchronized across devices, so users can join meetings from anywhere via Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows apps (and seamlessly switch from mobile to desktop, or app to app whenever needed). Amazon Chime can be integrated with existing corporate directories, and provides IT administrators the ability to manage identities and control access across an organization.
Amazon Chime requires no upfront investments, complicated deployment, or ongoing maintenance – customers can simply download the application and get started using the service in minutes. And Amazon Chime is one-third the cost of traditional solutions.
“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 Gene Farrell, Vice President, Enterprise Applications, AWS. “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.”
Amazon Chime offers the following benefits:
Like being in the same room, even when miles apart: Amazon Chime uses noise-cancelling wideband audio to deliver high-quality audio and crisp, clear HD video to make it easier to have real conversations in a meeting. And with Amazon Chime, video works great across all user devices and many conference room video systems with no upgrades required.
On-time meetings that can be joined with a single-click: Dialing into meetings has never been easier. Instead of trying to type in those hard-to-remember multi-digit pins, Amazon Chime calls participants when it is time for the meeting to start and lets them join with a single-click. And, those who are running behind can tap a “running late” button to automatically notify everyone in the meeting.
The end of “who just joined?”: Once in the meeting, Amazon Chime provides a visual roster that allows users to see exactly who has joined, who is running late, and who can’t make it. It also allows everyone to see who is talking or where background noise is coming from – no more barking dogs or loud typists – and anyone on the call can easily mute that participant.
Work from anywhere: Amazon Chime was built for mobile use from day one. With easy-to-use apps for Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows, Amazon Chime keeps meetings and chats synchronized across devices, and users can join meetings from any device and easily switch devices – even in the middle of a meeting.
Sharing made easy: Amazon Chime makes it easy to collaborate. When in a meeting, anyone can share their screen, instantly, without asking a host to “pass the ball,” or jump to a different application. For ongoing collaboration outside of meetings, Amazon Chime offers chat rooms that allow people to work together in a single place, securely storing chat history and files for ongoing reference.
Founded in 1818, Brooks Brothers is a leading retailer of fashion wear and accessories in the United States. “Historically, we used a number of unified communications applications inside Brooks Brothers for meetings, calls, and chat,” said Phillip Miller, Director of IT, Brooks Brothers. “We normally have to proactively push adoption for new tools to employees, but after starting a pilot of Amazon Chime, we quickly saw interest grow, with internal adoption now reaching 90 percent of our corporate staff without any formal rollout or training. With Amazon Chime, our users get a single application for their communications needs that works on all their devices, and now that it’s available we plan to begin retiring the multiple legacy applications we’ve been using.”
With 20 years of experience in e-commerce and consumer analytics, Connexity provides the necessary insights for marketers to build stronger relationships with their customers. “With teams located all over the world, staying connected is a challenge,” said Chris Hemphill, VP of IT, Connexity. “We needed a single communications solution for one on one meetings, brainstorming sessions, and our cross-company daily stand ups with our engineering teams. With Amazon Chime, our employees can do all this from a single app on any of their devices. The video capabilities in Amazon Chime, integrated with our conference room video system, have made our daily stand up meetings more productive. Amazon Chime helps to keep our geographically dispersed teams connected, and is integral to our communications strategy.”
Headquartered in Fremont, California, Soraa uses a patented technology to produce highly efficient LED lamps and light engines. “Soraa is a highly collaborative company, and we rely on technology to help us work together,” said Todd Antes, Senior VP of Marketing, Soraa. “We needed to replace our traditional online meetings solution, which was limited and expensive, and difficult to use. We chose Amazon Chime, which we use for online meetings, video conferencing, and screen sharing. Amazon Chime has transformed our online meetings, our employees can be productive from wherever they are, and the application works seamlessly across their devices. Amazon Chime has allowed us to save as much as 65% over our previous solution, and is now the standard at Soraa.”
Amazon Chime will soon be available through APN partners Level 3 and Vonage. With availability scheduled for the second quarter of 2017, Level 3 will add Amazon Chime to its suite of unified communications and collaboration solutions, providing enterprises with another powerful solution to help simplify and enhance communications. Also scheduled to be available in the second quarter of 2017, Vonage will provide Amazon Chime Pro Edition to its business customers at no additional cost, delivering a richer conferencing, video, and collaboration experience integrated with Vonage’s full range of unified communications solutions that are backed by the quality, strength, and reliability of the Vonage network.
Level 3 Communications, Inc. is a Fortune 500 company that provides local, national, and global communications provider that delivers communications services to enterprise, government and carrier customers. “Enterprises rely on the cloud to stay nimble and competitive in the digital economy. They need communication and collaboration tools, like Amazon Chime, that can break down organizational silos, and evolve with the business,” said Anthony Christie, Chief Marketing Officer, Level 3. “With Amazon Chime, delivered by Level 3, our customers have a clear advantage. They’ll have access to an agile collaboration platform, powered by AWS, with the reliability and security of Level 3’s global network. Level 3’s consultative end-to-end support model is designed to simplify the move to the cloud.”
Vonage is a leading provider of cloud communications services for businesses. “Vonage is excited to be a launch partner for AWS to bring Amazon Chime to our business customers,” said Alan Masarek, Chief Executive Officer, Vonage. “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.”
Amazon Chime is now available in three versions. Amazon Chime Basic Edition is free and lets users attend meetings, call another person using voice or video, and use Amazon Chime’s messaging and chat capabilities. Amazon Chime Plus Edition adds user management, such as the ability to manage an entire e-mail domain, disable accounts, or configure Active Directory, as well as 1GB per user of message retention – all for $2.50 per user, per month. Amazon Chime Pro Edition adds the ability to host meetings with screen sharing and video for up to 100 users and also includes support for mobile, laptop, and in-room video along with unlimited VoIP support – all for $15 per user, per month.
About Amazon Web Services
For 10 years, Amazon Web Services has been the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform. AWS offers over 90 fully featured services for compute, storage, databases, analytics, mobile, Internet of Things (IoT) and enterprise applications from 42 Availability Zones (AZs) across 16 geographic regions in the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Singapore, and the UK. AWS services are trusted by millions of active customers around the world monthly — including the fastest growing startups, largest enterprises, and leading government agencies — to power their infrastructure, make them more agile, and lower costs. To learn more about AWS, visit https://aws.amazon.com.
Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, and Alexa are some of the products and services pioneered by Amazon. For more information, visit www.amazon.com/about.