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9/19/2011
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New Alternative to GoToMeeting: Join.Me

Makers of LogMeIn enhance their service for instant online meetings, offer inexpensive, simple screensharing option.

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The ultra-simple screen sharing service Join.me is picking up a few new features--but not too many.

Join.me is a product from LogMeIn, which competes with the division of Citrix that offers GoToMeeting, GoToMyPC, GoToAssist, and other remote access products.

Until Join.me was introduced, LogMeIn was focused more on the IT support and management applications of remote access and didn't really have a product comparable to GoToMeeting or GoToWebinar.

"When we decided we wanted to get into screensharing and online conferencing, we knew we needed to create something far lighter and easier to use than any other product," Kevin Bardos, VP of collaboration technologies for LogMeIn, said in an interview. "The central concept is it's ultra-simple easy to use, and very quick to get started, not overburdened with features."

[Software upgrades can wreak havoc with ingrained work routines. Read one community manager's experience adjusting to the new Jive 5 collaboration platform in My First Eight Days With Jive's New Platform.]

Join.me makes it particularly easy to go to their website and start a screensharing session immediately, without even the need to set up an account. Users can enter a code to enter a meeting right from the home page. Even in the free version, online meetings can include up to 250 participants and it supports iPhone, iPad, and Android clients as well as Web access. The $19 per month pro version includes some additional features valued by professional presenters, such as a personalized invitation link (in the format join.me/myname), advanced scheduling of online meetings, and the ability to "lock" private invite-only meetings.

With the latest update, the pro version also provides the ability to swap presenters in midsession and a desktop client for launching collaboration sessions faster.

In both editions, online sessions can include chat, file transfer, and even remote desktop access.

"The remote control experience you would get with Join.me is not what you'd experience with LogMeIn Rescue, which is a pure support product," Bardos said. On the other hand, it works fine for the IT savvy user trying to help an IT-clueless friend or relative debug a PC problem long distance, he said.

LogMeIn makes no money from the free version of Join.me, not even from advertising, Bardos said. "The strategy is to build up a large base of loyal users and get the brand out there," he said. LogMeIn has experience with the "freemium" business model where a free version of software serves as a teaser for a fee-based one, which is also how it sells LogMeIn Pro, he said. "So this is not our first time doing this."

Above all, LogMeIn wants to people to feel free to start online meetings spontaneously by making it simple, Bardos said.

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