How Big Is the Web Conferencing Industry?
By Tom Chmielewski, eHow Contributor
I want to do this! What's This? With expanding Internet broadband service, rising airline ticket prices and a growing variety of services to choose from, it's not surprising the Web conference industry is booming. What had been a narrow choice of online conferencing services that were clunky, expensive and prone to crash at embarrassing moments has become a mainstay of small and mid-size businesses.
Web conferencing continues to grow.
CNN Money reported the Web conferencing industry grew by 19 percent in 2008. Research firm Frost and Sullivan told CNN that sales of Web conferencing programs and services exceeded $1.1 billion for the year.
Long distance conferencing, primarily video conferencing, has been around for a while, but the expense of the video hookups and satellite connections made it a affordable only for large companies. Web conferencing brought the advantage and cost savings of online meetings with clients to smaller companies, even startups with only one or two employees.
There are a number of companies offering programs and online services for Web conferencing. Prices vary greatly as does the quality of the service. But it's a rapidly changing market and upgrades occur frequently.
You can obtain basic Web conferencing services for usually under $100 a month. A couple of companies such as Yugma.com and Dimdim.com offer their basic package for free, with upgrades starting at under $20 a month.
Citrix Online, which sells the most popular Web conferencing service, GoToMeeting, reported in September 2009 a growth of 40 percent year-over-year, twice the industry average.
Other Major Players
In a December 2008 online article, InsideCRM.com listed the "major players" in Web conferencing which included some big names in computing, and other companies many have never heard of.
Adobe Acrobat Connect unites a standard format for document sharing, the PDF, with online meeting features such as application and desktop sharing, video conferencing and whiteboards, based on Adobe's Flash technology. IBM Lotus Sametime Unyte Meeting offers a pay-per-minute option as well as flat rates up to $99 per month for 999 seats at a cyber meeting.
Microsoft Office Live Meeting, WebEx MeetMeNow, Intercall, Saba Centra and iLink are other established web conference services.
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