16th February 2017

By: Jon Seddon, Head of Product Management.

Earlier this week, Amazon Web Services (AWS) threw its UC hat into the ring with a new service called Chime geared towards taking on WebEx and Skype for Business in the video conferencing market, but does it? At GCI, we’re focussed on offering our customers the best solutions available and naturally we wanted to take a look and see if it stacks up. So, we tried it out!

Chime meets the first hurdle – it installs well and the interface looks good. In terms of pricing there is a very limited free option and then a $2.50 per user per month tier. But whilst this does allow screen sharing, it’s for a maximum of two users… so not much of a meeting then! The next tier up is to the highest price bracket but it’s a significant leap to $15 per user per month. Realistically this is the only option that comes close to being ready for businesses. It comes with many of the features one gets with competitor services – meeting recording, personalised URLs, the ability to dial in on a phone line etc.

But Chime is not bringing anything new to the UC party… and is frankly a little underwhelming. If anything, it feels a bit like an ‘Enterprise FaceTime’ – a nice interface and OK for video calling, but it’s not ‘true UC’. Let’s be clear, this is not a replacement for your PBX. It does not cut it against a fully-fledged UC solution like Skype for Business (a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader) which has full support for PSTN calling. In a nutshell, this provides a user with a standard UK landline number so they can make and receive a call using the same UC solution.

Chime doesn’t offer this and is only geared up for meetings. It’s also relatively expensive – based on the fact that it’s a standalone solution and is not bundled with any other business software. For comparison’s sake, the Microsoft Office 365 E5 plan provides Skype for Business – which is already more feature rich than Chime – plus the full Office suite, Yammer, 1TB of OneDrive storage, an Exchange mailbox, voicemail integration with Outlook as well as advanced security and a host of analytics and compliance tools. Add to this the fact that a landline is no longer needed and its £30 ‘all in’ cost looks pretty compelling.

What the announcement from Amazon does reveal is the rapidly growing market for UC services. More and more businesses are becoming aware of the benefits that cloud-based collaboration tools can deliver and the market needs innovation and competition to drive it forward. All of this helps to grow the market and this can only be a good thing. Our view is that Chime is limited in both functionality and price right now. It might have some benefits for ad-hoc small business meetings but it’s not enterprise ready… just yet.

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