October 25, 2013
Thomas Friedman famously announced that "the world is flat" in his 2005 book of that name. He was writing about globalization. In Friedman's view, voice over Internet (VoIP), file sharing, and wireless were the "steroids" that have accelerated the flattening of global commerce. Today I would add video over Internet, which has become more and more prevalent as bandwidth has improved.
The two leaders in the business Web conferencing space are Cisco WebEx and Citrix GoToMeeting. A new product, My Web Conferences from a company named MyTrueCloud, promises to offer these leaders some lower-priced competition, though it lacks some of the refinements of the older products -- and the established players are both upgrading their offerings and decreasing their base prices in response to less expensive business services and free consumer offerings.
[ Bossies 2013: The best open source applications | Discover what's new in business applications with InfoWorld's Technology: Applications newsletter. | For quick, smart takes on the news you'll be talking about, check out InfoWorld TechBrief -- subscribe today. ]
Some businesses do use consumer products for voice and video over the Internet: Microsoft Skype, Google Hangouts, and Google Voice (no video) are three I've used extensively. While these can be useful, they don't quite meet the criteria for business-grade Web conferencing.
These higher-end products are expected to simultaneously deliver desktop shares, video, and audio; to provide high reliability and high quality; to integrate with common desktop software; and to work with mobile devices. They're also expected to handle large conference broadcasts, either in the base service or via a separate product. As we will see, there's a bit of variation among the business-grade products we are considering in all of these areas, as well as some differences in the bundling strategies.
Related Topics: john lennon Michelle Rodriguez Dylan Penn Sydney Leathers Cody Rhodes