The web conferencing market is an interesting space to monitor. I've covered this area since 1996. The market remains dominated by a hosted model with WebEx/Cisco and Microsoft as the top providers. Other recognized players in the hosted space include Adobe, Citrix, Genesys, Intercall (e.g., Raindance) and WebDialogs (recently acquired by IBM). Carriers often package and resell services from these vendors (note: AT&T just acquired Interwise). The on-premises market remains fragmented. There are e-learning/virtual classroom deployments (e.g., Centra, iLinc, Interwise are common) and some enterprise-wide deployments (IBM Sametime, Adobe Connect and vendors that are expanding beyond e-learning). There are at least 80 some-odd vendors in the space overall, including situational vendors that focus on specific applications - like Glance Networks, or those that extend IM/VoIP platforms like Skype (WebDialogs has been successful in that regard). There are many pricing options - some are pay-as-you-go, others are subscription-based and there are free services as well. Overall, the market is under tremendous downward pricing pessure indicating that services will get cheaper over time.
Large enterprises are not making a web conferencing decision - they are increasingly making a unified communications decision. I do not see much uptake at all actually concerning open source for web conferencing - unlike IM where I do see some deployment of Jiver and Jabber (Jabber is more open standard than open source though). So I don't see DimDim being all that successful for on-premises deployment within large enterprises. For the SMB market, hosted offerings will likely continue to dominate - there are just too many options and I doubt DimDim will get enough brand awareness and visible presence to have any significant market share anytime soon. Security and compliance demands may also come into play when organizations choose a provider.
There may be an opportunity for DimDim to be used within a package and resold (say by a carrier/telco) - perhaps there might be some interest within government sectors and emerging markets where established vendors in this space have not defined themselves. But overall, I would pass for now and revisit open source and DimDim in 18 months or so.
Dimdim Challenges WebEx, Microsoft
Dimdim, a Burlington, MA.-based web meeting services startup, wants to take on Cisco Systems’ (CSCO) WebEx and Microsoft’s (MSFT) Placeware by emphasizing simplicity and ease of use. The company, which is backed by investors including Draper Richards, Index Ventures and Nexus Capital India, launches its service today at DEMOfall 2007. Co-founded by Computer Associates alumni DD Ganguly and Prakash Khot, Dimdim has so far raised $2.5 million.
The service allows you share your desktop and files, and to IM, talk, and broadcast using your webcam. Dimdim is using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud service to operate its service, and says its software is open source.
The service utilizes Adobe’s (ADBE) Flash 9 plugin for all of the multimedia apps. I gave the Dimdim service a brief spin and was impressed by its stripped-down simplicity and the speed with which it loaded into the browser, especially when compared to WebEx’s long startup process.
But that doesn’t mean WebEx (acquired by Cisco Systems for $3.2 billion) has anything to worry about right now, for Dimdim is still a work in progress. Its interface needs tweaking; in fact, it needs to be livened up. After all, web meetings can be fun. too. Nor was I clear as to how secure my information was going to be or where, exactly, all the files that I uploaded went. But I’m sure they will resolve all these issues soon.
This is a competitive market, and it’s going to get even more competitive. Sooner or later, Google (GOOG) is going to enter with its own twist on web conferencing, as WWD’s Anne Zelenka has pointed out. If Dimdim hopes to truly establish itself, it will have to focus relentlessly on “user experience.”
DimDim launches FOSS challenge to WebEx
Open source startup DimDim has released an alpha version of their new browser based web conferencing software. Users download the open source free code and install it on their own servers. The current version supports IE on Windows only for presenters, which is really unfortunate, but attendees can be in conference via Firefox on Mac. No software download is required for attendees. Future versions will fully support Firefox on Mac, Linux and Windows. If the software ends up solid then DimDim could pose an interesting challenge to the current list of paid, hosted web conferencing solutions.