Yesterday we received a press release announcing the public release of Dimdim, a new open-source tool for online meetings. We've been testing some similar products of late so this caught our eye.
In a move that will give you some idea of how disruptive this technology may turn out to be, the company scheduled a press conference for the announcementto be transmitted using the product itselfand invited all interested parties to attend, which we did.
Unlike any other IP-based video conferencing and/or desktop-and-document sharing application, Dimdim does not require that users download and install a software client. You just drop a URL to a "meeting room" into your browser, and you're in the meeting.
We got to the web page a couple of minutes before the scheduled conference start time, and signed upbecame a registered userand was comfortably ready when the conference got under way.
According to Dimdim cofounder and CEO DD Ganguly, since Dimdim was launched as a private beta offering at DEMO Fall, last September, it has been adoptedor at least tried outby about 375,000 people all over the world. He attributes this rapid uptake to the simplicity (it works on any computer), reliability, and low cost of the service.
In fact, we viewed the audio/video/instant messaging/screen-sharing event using Dimdim Free, which, as the name suggests, costs nothing at all, while supporting up to 20 participants.
The audio quality was excellent in terms of quality and continuity, but audio volume balance between Mr. Ganguly (in Boston) and Chief Marketing Officer Steve Chazin, who chaired the session in San Francisco, was way out of whack. Video of Ganguly was crisp and almost real-time. The whiteboarding worked flawlessly, as we got Ganguly's basic marketing slide show.
After the formal presentation, visitors were invited to IM questions to Mr. Chazin in SF, who relayed them, vocally, to Mr. Ganguly on the East Coast. Public and private IM are usually available to all participants during sessions.
The United Nations and Amnesty International are among the global organizations now using Dimdim, as is a major U.S. university, which has made the service available to the entire faculty and student body. There has also been extensive uptake in the distance learning community, including moodle.com.
Ganguly stressed two special deployments during the press conference. One, in Texas, involves lengthy (five-hour) online seminars in Christian homemaking, attended by what Ganguly characterized as "soccer moms" sitting in their living rooms. In the other, a financial services company has embedded Dimdim's chat screen on their website, so customers can get direct, live input from tax advisors.
Dimdim Free is available for signup here. It provides desktop sharing, document sharing, video broadcasting, multi-way VoIP audio conferencing, instant messaging, and shared whiteboards with annotation tools. Dimdim pro is a more robust version of the service and can scale up to 100 participants per session. Pricing starts at $99 per year. Dimdim Enterprise can support up to 1,000 participants per session and enables multiple simultaneous meetings.
In addition to making the source code available to the open-source community, Dimdim is providing open APIs so encourage development of additional functionality and integration.