With Microsoft poised to put its substantial muscle behind new Skype offerings (provided the deal closes and all, as anticipated by the end of the year), Cisco is moving to better meet the needs of smaller companies with its WebEx conferencing services.
There is now a version of the service targeted at small businesses that only need to accomodate up to eight people on their meetings. The new version, which you have to buy online, is priced at $19 per month if you buy it ad hoc; if you commit to a year of service, you will pay $15.99 per month.
Previously, the entry point was a service that accommodated meetings with up to 25 people, which turned out to be largest than what many companies expected, said Deborah Holstein, senior director, online, for Cisco. "We got feedback that people just wanted a smaller room," she said. The 25-person meeting service is priced at $49 per month.
The service has the same features as the existing service. It is compatible with a whole range of mobile devices, which means that you can start or participate in a meeting on your smartphone or tablet computer if you are inclined. Holstein said that approximately 1 million people join WebEx meetings every month using a mobile device. Overall, about 23 million people use the WebEx service every month.
The service is integrated with Outlook calendars, for online scheduling purposes, and you can record a meeting, if you want. Archived meeting recordings can be played back later, if you want. So, that means if you are sneaky, you can actually make sure that meetings are at least seen by more than eight participants. This IS a limit to the storage you get with the service, though, so you can't store too many recordings at once.