Macromedia looks to extend Web conferencing

Macromedia Inc. is looking to bring Web conferencing to the masses by making its Breeze Live hosted service available on a pay-as-you go basis instead of requiring a subscription.

Users beginning on Tuesday will be able to access the Pay-Per-Use Breeze Live service for US$0.32 per minute per participant and use a credit card for payments, according to Macromedia. The company hopes to extend the application to small and midsize businesses through its new pricing plan.

Breeze Live is a browser-based Web conferencing service that enables users in multiple locations to hold meetings and share whiteboards, documents, and video. Graphics such as PowerPoint slides can be shared as well. The service also leverages Macromedia’s Flash display technology.

“It’s kind of an instant-on experience. You already have Flash and you can enter the meeting immediately,” said Kevin Lynch, vice-president for learning and collaboration at Macromedia. “You create a meeting on our Web site and you can invite other people,” Lynch said.

Macromedia will compete against Web conferencing services such as WebEx. Macromedia believes it can leverage its concept of a persistent meeting room, in which users can halt a meeting and return to it later, as well as its Flash technology to give it an edge over competitors, Lynch said.

Breeze’s support of multiple, open windows for presenting of different kinds of content provides an advantage over rivals, said analyst Paul Ritter, research director at Wainhouse Research. Additionally, the pay-per-use model enables Macromedia to extend the application to more users.

“It gives them the ability to sell Web conferencing to a larger audience, people who would not otherwise buy Breeze. They try out on a pay-per-user model,” Ritter said.

Web conferencing is becoming critical for applications such as employee training, sales presentations, and sales channel relations, Ritter said.

Another new option for pricing is a monthly subscription costing US$75 a month per seat for unlimited meetings available in five- and 10-seat packages. The hosted version of Breeze has been available for US$9,950 annually.

The licensed software version of Breeze Live starts at US$12,000 for 10 concurrent seats and one year of support.

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