First, they leverage Adobe Flash and Adobe Flex for the client piece, which enables cross-platform support. No download required. You can also easily invite participants from a dashboard utility or send an email link to instantly join the conference. Importantly, it supports VoIP over the Flash client, so callers from around the world can join in for free. It also features remote desktop sharing, and full presentation tools such as invite, mute, kick, pass controls, etc. One 8x8 spokesperson commented, "Our offering is like eVite + WebEx combined".
It's only $29.99/month for unlimited web meetings which can be used for training, webinars, webcasts, presentations, etc. They told me that currently 15 is the maximum number of participants. After 15 participants it's $2.99 per participant per meeting up to a maximum of 50. However, they said the SMB market they are targeting in most cases won't exceed 15 participants. They also stressed that they priced their conferencing offering for the SMB to be very cost-effective versus other conferencing solutions.
What's even cooler is that 8x8 told me they plan an Apple iPhone app which will allow you to join the conference, see the presentation/remote screen sharing, and hear the conference leveraging VoIP. I guess they won't be using Flash for that one since Apple still hasn't allowed Flash on the iPhone. 8x8 also mentioned they support the G.729 codec.
The "8x8 Virtual Meeting" web conferencing service is available as an add-on service for existing 8x8 customers or as a standalone offering for new subscribers, 8x8 Virtual Meeting features complete integrated voice conferencing (to and from any telephone or web browser platform), presentation slide sharing, desktop and application sharing, instant messaging, chair control, conference control and call recording, with up to 50 participants per conference.
"Small businesses, like those that subscribe to our 8x8 Virtual Office hosted phone services, want and need the same communications tools enjoyed by larger enterprises," said 8x8 Chief Marketing Officer Debbie Jo Severin. "In fact, in a recent survey of our existing business customers, more than 60% of them told us they already use some form of web conferencing in their day to day operations. 8x8 Virtual Meeting is a powerful collaboration tool that embodies all of the cost, performance and ease-of-use characteristics valued by our small business customers. We are excited to offer this new service and look forward to introducing additional communications solutions specifically geared to the small business market."
Highlights of the 8x8 Virtual Meeting web conferencing service include:
- No software download, plug-ins or supplemental hardware required
- Integrated VoIP, chat, desktop sharing and dial in/dial out features
- Unlimited meetings for a low monthly or annual price
- Up to 15 participants per meeting with the option to add more for a minimal cost
- One free local dial in number
- Flexible local and international toll or toll free meeting dial-in numbers available
- Audio-only meetings, audio and web meetings or web-only meetings
- Record any audio meeting or portions of a audio meeting
- Playback and/or download meeting audio recordings
- Perform desktop sharing and pass controls to participants
- Seamless integration with 8x8 Virtual Office services including corporate directory
- Extensive meeting management capabilities for meeting creators and participants
- Organize past meetings, upcoming meetings and meetings in progress
- Create private group audio sessions during a live meeting
- Customize dial in numbers for each meeting, including international numbers from 19 countries and more than 50 international destinations
- Request and manage participant RSVPs online