Macromedia Enters Web Conferencing Market

Company on Wednesday moved its Flash technology into the busy real-time meeting business with new Macromedia Breeze Live software and service.

Macromedia Inc. this week took the plunge into Web conferencing with the introduction of real-time meeting software based on its Macromedia Flash technology.

The San Francisco-based company on Wednesday launched Macromedia Breeze Live, which is available either as a stand-alone product or as a module of its Macromedia Breeze online presentation system.

Macromedia joins an increasingly competitive field of Web conferencing players. Microsoft Corp. last month launched a real-time meeting service, called Microsoft Live Meeting, based on its recent acquisition of PlaceWare Inc. The other top player, WebEx Communications Inc., also has been beefing up its service, this month announcing integration of its Web conferencing with instant messaging from Yahoo Inc.s Business Messenger.

With its solution, Macromedia is heralding its use of Flash. About 98 percent of desktops on the Web already have Flash Player installed, Macromedia said, alleviating the need to download software in order to participate in an online meeting. Most can join by clicking on a Web link.

"Online meetings have become a popular way for organizations to reduce the expense of meetings while retaining interactivity and productivity," said Keith Kitani, vice president of product marketing at Macromedia, in a statement. "Breeze Live eliminates both the technical barriers and learning curve that have previously limited widespread adoption."

Breeze Live supports Microsoft PowerPoint slides, live and recorded video, audio, Flash animations, screen sharing and two-way chat, according to Macromedia.

When used along with Macromedia Breezes presentation platform, meeting hosts can take advantage of Breezes content library, use its authoring plug-in for PowerPoint, and deliver content on demand as well as in a live meeting.

Macromedia Breeze Live is available now, either through an enterprise license or as a hosted service. The hosted service starts at $83 a month per user for Web conferencing that includes video and archiving. Macromedia did not disclose pricing for enterprise licensing.

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