A new video and phone conference service from Amazon aims to compete with the likes of Microsoft's Skype for Business. Amazon Web Services unveiled its new Amazon Chime service today to provide unified communications tools to enable companies to host or join meetings as well as chat online, while sharing content and screens across their devices.

"In a world where meeting attendees are often not in the same city, much less the same office building, unified communications has become increasingly more important," the company said in a statement. "Amazon Chime takes frustration out of meetings, delivering very high quality video, voice, chat, and screen sharing."

Push-Button Conferencing

Amazon is pitching the new service as a way to bring high-end quality to an aspect of enterprise technology often seen as a source of frustration for companies due to clunky or hard-to-use interfaces, bad sound and audio quality and complicated login procedures. Chime aims to deliver high-end video and audio quality while making the process of hosting or joining a meeting as simple as the push of a button.

Chime calls all participants listed for a meeting when it starts so joining is as easy as clicking a button in the app, according to the company. It also provides a visual roster of all attendees, taking the mystery out of knowing who is on the call.

The new service also comes with its own mobile and desktop apps that can be synchronized across multiple Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows devices. Amazon said Chime can also be integrated into existing corporate directories, and also allow IT administrators to manage identities and control access across their organizations.

Easy Deployment

Perhaps most attractive for IT departments, Chime doesn't require deployment or upfront investments, since enterprises can just download the app. Additionally, Amazon said it costs about a third as much as competing solutions.

"It's pretty hard to find people who actually like the technology they use for meetings today. Most meeting applications or services are hard to use, deliver bad audio and video, require constant switching between multiple tools to do everything they want, and are way too expensive," said Gene Farrell, vice president, enterprise applications, AWS, in the statement.

The service is now available in three versions. Amazon Chime Basic is free and lets a user attend meetings, call another person using voice or video, and use its messaging and chat capabilities. Amazon Chime Plus adds user management, such as the ability to manage an entire e-mail domain, disable accounts, or configure Active Directory, as well as 1 GB per user of message retention, for $2.50 per user, per month.

And Amazon Chime Pro adds the ability to host meetings with screen sharing and video for up to 100 users and also includes support for mobile, laptop, and in-room video along with unlimited VoIP support for $15 per user, per month.