Skype was originally released in 2003. Apple's FaceTime first appeared on iOS back in 2010. Video conferencing is definitely not anything new. Amazon is trying to shake up that established market with its Chime service. Chime looks ready to compete with business-focused video conferencing services like Microsoft's Skype for Business and Cisco's WebEx. The service includes voice calling, file sharing, and chat features that put services like TR-favorite Slack in Amazon's sights, too.
Chime has already launched, and the client software is available for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS. Amazon promises seamless synchronization between devices, letting users switch to another devices mid-conference. Where Chime probably has a long leg up on its competition is that it's able to avoid some common shenanigans involved with teleconferencing. Instead of using an arcane link and a mysterious PIN, Chime will simply ring up all the participants at the appointed time. Users can then accept or reject the call, see who's present and who's marked themselves as late. As cherries on top, Chime will automatically reconnect the call if it drops somehow, and it'll automatically mute background noise.
Prospective users can try Chime free for the first month. After that, there are three tiers of paid service. Chime Basic includes one-to-one video chats, access to chat rooms, and 30-day message history for no charge. Forking over $2.50 per user per month for Chime Plus unlocks some additional features like screen sharing, remote desktop control, 1GB of per-user message history, and user management features.
Ponying up the $15 monthly per user for the whole-hog Chime Pro steps the maximum video conference member figure from two to 100, along with the ability to schedule, host, and record meetings, and use conference room video systems. Chime Pro also lets companies use standard phone lines, albeit with the additional charges detailed here.
Chime's website doesn't have a single mention of Echo or Alexa, but we can't help but wonder what Amazon has cooking with respect to using Echo devices with its new service. Check out Chime here.