RealTime IT News

Macromedia Breezes Into Online Meeting Market

Web graphics software juggernaut Macromedia breezed into the online meeting market Wednesday as it launched a new technology called Macromedia Breeze Live.

The product is available immediately as a standalone product or as an add-on module for the Macromedia Breeze platform.

As the online market space staggers to recover from the effects of a bad economy, Macromedia Breeze Live is designed to compete with LiveMeeting from Microsoft and various services from online meeting pioneer WebEx . The solution offers unique features not available in some of these other online meeting vendors, including a full suite of services built upon the technology of the widely used Macromedia Flash Player.

According to Keith Kitani, vice president of product management for Macromedia, the benefit of these services is that users can join a meeting simply by clicking a web link, without having to download and set-up software to participate. "Macromedia Breeze Live...[offers] a simpler and better user experience before, during, and after the live session," Kitani said from the company's San Francisco headquarters. "[It] eliminates both the technical barriers and learning curve that have previously limited widespread adoption [of the technology]."

As Kitani explains, the application can be customized to suit individual presentation styles and content, by having multiple layouts within one meeting "room." The technology also enables content such as PowerPoint presentations to be set-up in advance, and information such as spreadsheets to be delivered or edited in real-time during a meeting, without having to interrupt the flow of a presentation.

For those who participate in recurring meetings, Breeze Live technology enables users to deliver pre-recorded presentations in online environments that mirror the environment in which the presentation was delivered initially. Paul Ritter, program manager for collaboration research at the Yankee Group in Boston, said this feature makes the product particularly useful for delivering the same content to multiple groups spread over a wide geographic area.

Still, Ritter notes that Macromedia Breeze Live still lacks some of the most interactive features, such as application sharing and integration with Instant Messenger technologies. Microsoft's LiveMeeting, a service based on technology the company acquired when it bought Mountain View, Calif.-based PlaceWare in May for $200 million, enables users to share applications and files at will. In a flurry of acquisitions and moves earlier this summer, San Jose, Calif.-based WebEx announced a partnership with Yahoo! to integrate access to WebEx Meeting Center into Yahoo! Messenger Enterprise Edition.

"If Macromedia is smart, they'll work to build this kind of functionality into future product releases," Ritter told internetnews.com. "Even without these additions, the product has a great competitive chance against some of the biggest players in the space."

Macromedia officials declined to comment on plans to improve future editions of the product. For now, they said, Macromedia Breeze Live is available either as a hosted ASP for annual packages starting at a monthly rate of $83 per user, or as an enterprise licensed solution.