Vendors Chase Growing Web Conferencing Market - InformationWeek

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Software // Enterprise Applications

Vendors Chase Growing Web Conferencing Market

IBM's buyout of WebDialogs comes as rival Microsoft is beefing up its own voice and video conferencing products.

IBM has acquired WebDialogs, Inc., a Billerica, MA-based developer of Web conferencing and Internet communications software at a time when other vendors are bolstering their Web conferencing offerings.

IBM's buyout of WebDialogs comes as rival Microsoft is beefing up its own voice and video conferencing products. Microsoft earlier this week said it will launch a new family unified messaging software on October 16. The products include Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, Office Communicator 2007 and Microsoft Live Meeting.

Vendor interest in the Web conferencing market isn't surprising -- it's poised for big growth. Gartner analyst Tom Eid predicts the market will expand at a rate of 23% through 2011. Other players include WebEx, GoToMeeting and Adobe.

WebDialogs, founded in 1998, produces a range of solutions for online voice and video conferencing. It also develops tools designed to facilitate conference calling over eBay's Skype VoIP service. WebDialogs has 500,000 users worldwide, IBM said. Financial terms of the deal, disclosed Tuesday, were not announced.

WebDialogs' software can be tapped as an online service, eliminating the need for in-house IT support. IBM says it will fold the vendor's offerings into its Lotus Sametime family of instant messaging products.

WebDialogs' Unyte service will help grow IBM's presence in the market for Web conferencing packages aimed at small- to mid-sized businesses. Under IBM, the product will be rebranded as Lotus Sametime Unyte. IBM also plans to make WebDialogs' products available to resellers, allowing them to offer bespoke Web conferencing services to their customers.

IBM's WebDialogs acquisition is its fourth software buyout of the year. Previously in 2007, the company announced plans to acquire DataMirror, WatchFire and Telelogic.

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