Amazon launches Chime, a video conferencing and communications service for business

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Amazon has taken the wraps off of its own Skype competitorChime is a new video conferencing and communications from AWS that’s focused on business users.

Beyond VoIP calling and video messaging, Chime includes virtual meetings, allowing users to host or join a remote meeting through the service. Pricing starts at $2.50 per user per month on the lowest end, with a higher tier plan of $15 per user which includes video and screen-sharing among other features. There is a basic option available for free but that is limited to video calls and chat rooms between two users.

Chime is available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android devices.

TechCrunch first reported that Amazon was planning this new service in November, when we wrote that the firm had acquired patents and staff from San Francisco-based Biba Systems, a startup behind video messaging apps aimed at business users.

The move is not only an alternative to communication services like Skype for business or Google Hangouts, but it is also takes AWS into the space of virtual meeting management, where companies like GoToMeeting and Cisco (WebEx) are the best known players.

“It’s pretty hard to find people who actually like the technology they use for meetings today. Most meeting applications or services are hard to use, deliver bad audio and video, require constant switching between multiple tools to do everything they want, and are way too expensive,” Gene Farrell, Vice President of enterprise applications at AWS, said in a statement.

AWS is already a formidable player in cloud services, as TechCrunch enterprise reporter Ron Miller explained this week, but Chime pushes it into the services space to help strengthen its grip on customers as competition increases. Microsoft, Google and even new entrants like Alibaba are making big pushes to nab customers from AWS, which remains a key performer for Amazon financially.

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