Elluminate, Intranets.com Heat Up Web-Conferencing Market

Two more vendors-Elluminate and Intranets.com&#151on Monday launched new software and services for holding online meetings. Both companies seek a larger share of the increasingly competitive conferencing market.

Competition in the Web conferencing market continued to grow on Monday as two more companies announced new services and software for holding real-time online meetings.

Elluminate Inc. launched a new name and a new version of its Web conferencing software as it aggressively seeks corporate business, while Intranets.com Inc. added a Web and audio conferencing option for its hosted collaboration suite for small- and medium-sized businesses.

Both companies are taking on Web conferencing leaders such as WebEx Communications Inc. and Microsoft Corp., which had acquired PlaceWare Inc. last year.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read a recent eWEEK Labs review of WebExs Meeting Center.

Elluminate, of Pompano Beach, Fla., renamed its Web conferencing software, formerly known as vClass, to Elluminate Live. The company comes to Web conferencing with an e-learning focus and strong academic customer base, but with the Version 5 release Elluminate is targeting corporate business by offering to buy out customers contracts from competing Web conferencing offerings.

Elluminate Live Version 5, to be available on March 1, will be offered in three editions—enterprise, academic and team (for smaller groups). The new release will include a new audio wizard to help users select volume preferences, improvements to the whiteboard functionality and other usability enhancements, the company said.

Elluminate has concentrated on conducting its Web conferences using voice over IP (VOIP). Though customers can set up their own public-switched telephone network conference calls for their Web conferences, about 95 percent stick with Elluminate Lives VOIP, said Rajeev Arora, Elluminate vice president of strategy.

Using VOIP frees users from having to log into both a Web conference online and an audio conference on the telephone, Arora said. The software currently offers half-duplex VOIP, meaning that one party can talk at a time.

"We want to be able to engage people rather than be a one-way Webcast-type product," Arora said.

Elluminate Live is a Java-based application and only requires a standard Web browser such as Internet Explorer, Mozilla or Apple Computer Inc.s Safari for the initial download. It runs across multiple platforms—such as Windows, Linux and Mac OS X—and includes such features a chat, whiteboards and application sharing.

In addition, the application lets users create multiple breakout rooms during a Web conferencing sessions for smaller group collaboration.

Both the enterprise and academic editions of Elluminate Live are offered either as a hosted service or as licensed server software. The enterprise edition starts at $6,000 a quarter as a hosted service or $35,000 for a perpetual license for 25 seats or more, Arora said. The academic edition costs about 30 percent less. The team edition is offered only as a hosted service for three, five or 10 seats, starting at $240 a month for three seats.

To grab customers from competitors, Elluminate is offering to provide free access for existing customers of competitors up to the length of time remaining in a contract, or a maximum of eight months, Arora said.

In its separate announcement, Intranets.com launched Intranets.com Conferencing. It allows users to add Web conferencing and telephone-based audio conferencing to through their hosted Intranets.com collaboration site so online meetings can be initiated on-demand, said Woburn, Mass.-based Intranets.com.

The conferencing option is provided through partner Netspoke, a conferencing provider based in Woburn, Mass. It includes the sharing of presentations, files and applications as well as features for chat, question-and-answer sessions, polling and white boarding.

Intranets.com Conferencing is available now. Pricing starts at $99.95 a month for as many as 25 simultaneous participants in a Web conference. The audio conferencing starts at 12-cents per minute.

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