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4/2/2011
04:33 PM
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AnyMeeting Makes Web Meetings, Webinars Free

Claiming to match Cisco's WebEx and Citrix's GoToMeeting on feature set, the ad-supported service can accommodate up to 200 participants.

The recently renamed AnyMeeting service claims to match WebEx and GoToMeeting feature for feature and do it all for free.

The Web conferencing service, previously known as Freebinar, renamed itself partly to make clear that it supports one-on-one and small group meetings in addition to webinars, vice president of marketing Damian Raffele said in an interview. But Freebinar online meetings also scale up to 200 participants, with the one tradeoff being that you must be willing to tolerate a block of ads running in a corner of the screen.

The service includes screen sharing, application sharing, and text conferences on the side, much like the service you would pay a monthly fee to get from WebEx, a division of Cisco, or GoToMeeting, which is part of Citrix.

"We want to be the best Web conferencing service that's out there, free or paid," Raffelle said. Unlike many "freemium" services, AnyMeeting does not offer an upgrade path. There are no paid services to upgrade to.

Other than possible phone company tolls for dialing in to the conference call associated with the Web meeting, there is no charge for the audio portion, which can also be conducted over Internet calling (VoIP). You can record your meeting, and AnyMeeting will host the playback service free of charge.

As part of the announcement of its name change, AnyMeeting also introduced support for video streaming from a webcam as part of an online conference -- a function that some of the paid services have yet to support, Raffelle said.

AnyMeeting markets itself primarily to small businesses and non-profits for whom the ad-supported service is most attractive, Raffelle said. "We're not really going after the enterprise market, although I could see it happening in the future."

Account holders get a public profile on the service they can use to promote their upcoming events and make recordings of past events available, along with links to their Facebook and Twitter profiles. Through integration with those services, AnyMeeting also allows members to cross-post information about upcoming Web meetings and webinars to their social network.

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