IDC estimates growth in data conferencing users.

IDC, in the Wall Street Journal today, January 17, 2005 estimated that the number of data conferencing users will grow from 79 million to 107 million users this year. That's nearly 10% of all Internet users.

The service market, pioneered by Webex and now joined by Raindance (I've used these guys in a previous company) and Microsoft's Live Meeting service. Most enterprises limit its use to only the sales and marketing departments, who offer controlled sessions. My previous employer used Raindance for end user product demonstrations, customer training and thought leadership lead development. The webinar was integrated into the company's marketing plan and included registration services from the corporate website so users could sign up for their favorite or convenient online seminar.

Although Webex offered IP telephony from within the application (and charged extra for it), Raindance allowed the moderator to dialout to users or to themselves, enabling mute, control transfer and the like. I preferred the Raindance service to the Webex offer.

However, now Webex is able to support Microsoft PowerPoint animations, which greatly improved the user experience in sharing knowledge of complex phenomenon and process-type functionality.

According to Mike Totty, of the WSJ, the prices offered by Microsoft are $300 per named user and $3000 per 'group license' per year. Citrix Systems offers GoToMeeting wich costs $39/month/organizer up to a maximum of 25 users per session.

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