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Amazon Chime app adds dial-out, single sign-on features

The Amazon Chime app has new dial-out and single sign-on features, but the cloud-based messaging and meetings platform still trails rivals, including Cisco Webex and Zoom.

Amazon Web Services has been gradually building out the features of Amazon Chime, as the tech giant struggles to...

attract corporate interest in the online messaging and meetings platform.

AWS added a dial-out function to the Amazon Chime app this week so that users can program the app to call a phone number at the start of a meeting. The feature will simplify the process of connecting to meeting audio for attendees who are away from their desks. 

AWS also recently announced it would integrate the Amazon Chime app with the software of Okta, a leading single sign-on vendor. Okta's platform consolidates the username and password information of an organization's apps so that users only have to remember one set of sign-on credentials.

Last month, AWS made it possible to conduct a Chime video meeting in Google Chrome. While all major browsers support messaging and most non-video meeting features, Chrome is the only internet client that supports Chime video conferencing. (Users can also install a desktop app.)

"I see these largely as incremental improvements that allow Amazon to better compete with the likes of Zoom, BlueJeans, GoToMeeting, Cisco Webex, etc.," said Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill.

Businesses expect all online meetings platforms to support in-browser video conferencing at this point, while single sign-on is a must-have feature for many large organizations, Lazar said.

Amazon Chime app trails rivals as AWS seeks greater share of collaboration market

Launched in February 2017, Amazon Chime is still playing catch-up with more established online meetings platforms. Amazon has stepped up efforts to penetrate the enterprise market in recent years, including with the release of the contact center platform Amazon Connect.

Alexa for Business, an enterprise version of the vendor's popular AI voice assistant, has the potential to gain traction in the enterprise market, said Wayne Kurtzman, analyst at IDC. The Amazon Chime app, however, is not yet on the radar of many companies, he said.

"While Alexa for Business will gain traction over time, mostly integrated with other products, Amazon has to prove that Chime will be here for the long haul, be better than competitors and be a trusted part of a custom, cloud-based IT stack," Kurtzman said.

Amazon is not the only consumer tech giant making a play at the enterprise collaboration market. Google also recently released a team collaboration app, Hangouts Chat, and an online meetings platform, Hangouts Meet.

AWS, a $17.5 billion division of Amazon, has sought to use low and flexible pricing to attract businesses to Amazon Chime.

When Chime first launched, AWS gave customers the ability to prorate the subscription fees of individual users by activating and deactivating their licenses on demand. Later, the vendor implemented a usage-based pricing system that costs $3 per day on every day that a user hosts a meeting, for a maximum of $15 per user, per month.

In announcing usage-based pricing in March, AWS said it expected the new scheme would reduce the bills of virtually all premium customers of Amazon Chime. Nevertheless, aggressive pricing hasn't been enough to draw attention from tech buyers.

"I rarely hear about Chime," said Alan Lepofsky, analyst at Constellation Research, based in Cupertino, Calif. "I think Chime could have an interesting differentiation if Amazon made it very easy for developers to add voice and video features to custom applications. That would make Chime more of a competitor to Twilio than to Webex."

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