8×8 has launched a free version of its video conferencing app, hoping to lure businesses into subscribing to its cloud-based calling and contact center suite.
8×8 is challenging Zoom and LogMeIn in launching its first stand-alone video product. The move comes as those vendors have been seeking to penetrate 8×8’s primary market: business calling, also known as unified communications as a service (UCaaS).
Zoom has aggressively expanded its cloud-based business calling service over the past year while LogMeIn has pursued product consolidation. The company recently folded its flagship video conferencing platform, GoToMeeting, into a broader UCaaS offering called GoToConnect.
8×8 Video Meetings places no limit on how long meetings can last. In contrast, the free versions of Zoom and GoToMeeting cap meetings at 40 minutes. 8×8’s free version also provides toll-free dial-in options, which are usually a pay-by-the-minute add-on.
“This is certainly a compelling new entrant that will challenge Zoom and GoToMeeting’s freemium offerings,” said Mike Fasciani, analyst at Gartner.
But only 50 people can meet at once on 8×8’s platform. That’s fewer than the 100-person limit of Zoom’s free version, although more than GoToMeeting’s three-person cap. (Zoom’s paid service can support 1,000 participants, while GoToMeeting’s premium tier can support 3,000.)
Users can access 8×8 Video Meetings without registering. However, signing up with an email address unlocks benefits such as calendar integration, team admin controls, and personalized virtual meeting rooms. In turn, 8×8 will try to convince users who register to become paying customers.
8×8 Video Meetings launched in September for businesses subscribed to the vendor’s X Series suite, which includes calling, messaging and contact center apps. 8×8 built the product using the open source software of Jitsi, which the vendor acquired from Atlassian last year.
Businesses get a couple of perks for using 8×8 Video Meetings as part of the X Series. For those customers, 8×8 Video Meetings includes a call-me feature for connecting to a meeting’s audio. Also, the video app integrates with third-party services, such as single sign-on software.
In the future, 8×8 might create a paid subscription tier for 8×8 Video Meetings. The offering could include advanced features like transcription and meeting room controls, said Eduardo Cocozza, a senior marketing director at 8×8.
Because it relies on WebRTC, 8×8 Video Meetings lets users conduct meetings in web browsers like Chrome and Firefox without downloads or plugins. But desktop and mobile apps are available for those who want them. Highfive, Cisco and BlueJeans have also enabled browser-based video conferencing in recent years.
8×8 is currently beta-testing meeting room software for connecting its video app to software-agnostic endpoints from vendors like Logitech and Poly. 8×8 is in the process of cementing partnerships with hardware vendors for preintegrated room kits, Cocozza said.
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