Low-Cost Video Conferencing Arrives

Convoq's ASAP, a Macromedia Flash-based client fusing instant messaging and collaboration, works with software already installed in most internet-enabled computers and virtually any off-the-shelf camera.

The era of low-cost video conferencing has finally arrived, and it's taking the
form of a client fusing instant messaging and collaboration that can work with
software already installed in most internet-enabled computers and virtually any
off-the-shelf camera.

The product, called Convoq ASAP, and developed by Lexington, MA start-up Convoq,
allows groups of people to speak, hold a video conference and jointly view
and work on documents using a standard web browser and Macromedia's Flash player.

ASAP, which stands for As Soon As Present, allows for rich media meetings
to be held by looking for blocks of time where all those who need to participate
are avaialable.

While aimed squarely at the enterprise, ASAP carries a consumer level price
tag. Unlimited meeting for up to five people cost $49.95 a year, and for up
to 25 people $99.95 per year — literally tens of thousands of dollars less
than exisiting conferencing and collaboration software programs offered by
Micosoft and Macromedia.

The ASAP client, which works on the Windows, Macintosh and Linux operating
system, functions much like instant messaging software programs such as MSN
Messenger and AIM. Contacts maintained within the client can be accessed instantly
and invited to a video meeting. The contacted party joins the meeting by simply
clicking on a link in the program. Participants can also be invited while logged
on to other messaging clients such as MSN Messenger and AIM. Full recordings
of a meeting can be stored for future viewing.

Workplace collaborations allow for conversations via Voice over IP and text
chat, as well as instant file transfers, annotated shared screens, and multimedia
Powerpoint presentations.

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