Fear. That’s what causes technology executives to branch out beyond their company’s core strengths. They’re afraid that another company will beat them to a new market. Look at the tech landscape. It’s littered with failed product and business ventures.
Sure, one can argue that failures lead to success, but look at Google and Microsoft’s acquisitions over the past decade and you’ll see tens of billions of dollars spent with very little revenue, profit, or marketshare to show for the effort. Those executives throw digital mud against the product wall to see what will stick.
Here is a quick contrast of Apple and Amazon efforts to expand the marketplace. The former with few failures, the latter with few successes. The latest from Amazon is Chime, a communications service that is more or less like FaceTime for business. Chime is an app that runs pretty much everywhere and features options for video conferencing, calls, chat, file sharing, screen sharing, and a laundry list of business-like features you won’t find FaceTime, which, obviously, Apple aims more at consumer customers than business.
Here’s a look at Amazon promotional material showing Chime in action.
Wait. Is that right? Those pretty models on the Chime website are not actually using Chime. They’re sitting there and looking pretty. Don’t get me wrong, I like such video conferencing and communication solutions. They allow me to work mostly from home, but the only standard that works everywhere these days is, well, my iPhone, and that’s because I get calls and texts and email messages first, occasionally Skype and FaceTime, and, well, that’s a wrap.
There’s just no standard for all these video conference solutions so we’re forced to use multiple versions depending upon whom and how we need to communicate. Oh, and speaking of communicating, Amazon Chime phones home to a horrific degree. I use Little Snitch to monitor apps that communicate from my Mac to wherever and nearly two dozen pop ups later I could finally get Chime to open on the screen (email verification included).
Chime works, though, and setup is mostly painless (so long as you don’t mind Amazon phoning home constantly and tracking what you do).
Chime is free to try but the features you’ll want to use in business come with a price tag. The Basic version, for example, won’t let you schedule or start meetings, or give you dial-in numbers, or even record meetings. Neither will the Plus package, but the Pro does everything including video, VoIP, auto calls to you on your devices, and much more. For $15 per month. Per user.
Amazon’s end game here to get some of its technology infrastructure into bed with corporate IT groups, but make it easy enough for small business to use. If your company’s internet connection is as reliable as your cell phone or land lines, why not use Amazon instead?
Chime runs on Amazon’s AWS service so reliability should be high, and everything is secured using AES 256-bit encryption. Not only can you join online meetings with video conferencing and audio, but also chat, chat rooms for private conversations, and the option to drag and drop to share files anywhere is a big plus.
I won’t do a tit-for-tat comparison with FaceTime because Apple’s famous (it gets used as a verb) video and audio app works well but is limited, like almost everything else Apple that doesn’t bring in revenue, to Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Amazon Chime runs on Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android devices, Windows PCs, but oddly enough not on Amazon tablets (and, of course, not on Kindle).
My favorite feature is the ability to see who is available. The feature is called Presence and displays status color by contact (yes, Amazon gets to see your contact list). Green is available, Red is busy, Green Mobile is mobile device, Orange is idle, and Lock means Presence is hidden.
All things considered, Chime isn’t bad. It’s not as drop dead easy as FaceTime, but the target user– business– has different requirements. Apple’s iPhone remains the leader in the enterprise so where is FaceTime for business users?