A Cacophony of Chimes
On February 13, Amazon Web Services announced the release of its fully managed communications service that it branded as Amazon Chime. About a year ago CaféX announced its Chime product. To keep it all from getting confusing, let's look at both, ignoring whatever trademark issues might be arising, so you are clear on what is what.
CaféX Communications is a New York-based provider of mobile and web solutions. Less than a month ago CaféX closed an $18 million Series C funding led by Rakutan, the parent of Rakutan Communications and the exclusive distribution channel for CaféX products in Japan.
The CaféX Chime product was announced on February 25, 2016 and won the Best of Enterprise Connect Award in March of 2016. CaféX Chime is a WebRTC collaboration platform that enables voice, video, and chat sessions that launch from a browser. The architectural approach in CaféX Chime, which optimizes MCU port usage and reduces network bandwidth for video traffic, was cited by the Enterprise Connect judges as a noteworthy reason for the award. The acquisition of Vayyoo last month has enabled CaféX to release a room framework, called Chime Spaces, to further CaféX's reach into the enterprise. When CaféX released Chime they indicated that pricing would be in the $5-$15 / user / month range, depending on services and volume.
Amazon Web Services, based in Seattle, is the large cloud platform business unit of Amazon. Amazon Chime is also a collaboration platform that provides the standard suite of products: video, voice, chat, shared content, and online meetings on all devices from an application or a browser.
There are three flavors of Amazon Chime:
- Basic: 1:1 voice and video calls, chat and chat rooms (free)
- Plus: Basic, adds shared screen and integration with the corporate directory ($2.50 / user / month)
- Pro: Plus, adds online meetings, recording, and personalized meeting URLs for up to 100 people ($15 / user / month)
To set up Amazon Chime the administrator must have an AWS account. However, participants in Amazon Chime meetings do not need AWS accounts. Amazon Chime runs on AWS as an AWS service.
These are obviously two products with the same name that do essentially the same thing, although they both do it differently. CaféX's WebRTC platform is browser-based while Amazon Chime is an AWS service that also adds device-based applications. I haven't had a chance to play with either product so cannot opine yet on how they perform. AWS enjoys a powerful reputation for resiliency and reliability, but that does not necessarily mean they know how to build a collaboration platform so we'll need one of the other UCStrategies experts to check them out.
Amazon Chime's pricing at the high end is comparable with CaféX Chime's fully featured product. However, Amazon Chime's mid-tier offering is very aggressive priced, and you have to like the "free" price of its Basic product.
So, in a nutshell, same names, similar products, different product architectures. It is a bit confusing, so it will be helpful to always append the company name to whichever Chime is ringing.
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