I have an account with Dimdim, which provides internet-based conferencing and webcasts. I haven’t used it for some time (there were various problems when I tried it for a webcast) but it’s remained open.
Today an email popped up telling me that Dimdim has been acquired by salesforce.com:
Dimdim has been acquired by salesforce.com. Your free Dimdim account will remain active until March 15, 2011. After that date, you will no longer be able to access your free Dimdim account.
Please see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for additional information.
We appreciate your understanding, and we thank you!
OK, a free account is a free account and in this case I’m not going to miss it. But when I look at the FAQs online there are no options even for paying customers to extend accounts beyond their current agreement’s expiry. Even the FAQ about accounts on automatic renewal simply say “No further renewals will be offered”. The service is being closed down.
Question: what’s salesforce buying? Clearly not a user base. Their intention is to uprate the live collaboration facilities of the existing Chatter platform. Chatter was only launched to the community in March 2010: salesforce claim 60,000 users who are, presumably, asking for more advanced capabilities. The press release headlines say:
Acquisition will extend salesforce.com’s Chatter collaboration platform with critical real-time communication technologies … Follows the proven Facebook model of combining real-time collaboration and communication into a single integrated service … Enables salesforce.com to build on momentum of 60,000 Chatter customers, accelerating the industry shift to Cloud 2
The look over the shoulder at Facebook is interesting! So’s the reference to Cloud 2, whatever that really means.
What did strike me, though, is that this is surely not the way to handle the sudden closure of a service. Does the FAQ offer any help for people looking for an alternative – especially the free account customers? No. Would that have been useful? Absolutely! Is there any real help “out there”? No, not really. So here goes.
Paying customers might do well to look at established conventional platforms such as WebEx, GoToMeeting or Intercall. Maybe they already have, as I did. Integration with conventional telephone conferencing still tends to beat IP audio for significant numbers – especially where bandwidth is being used to stream presentation content or video as well.
But others will still want to look for Free. There’s not much help out there – and discovery is complicated because “free” in searches often only means “free for a time-limited trial”. One review which claimed to be of free conferencing software covered only trials of this kind. The Web Conferencing Zone has a review article, but it’s nearly five years out of date. Of its three suggested services, two (Dimdim and Lotus Unyte) are no longer available and the third (Share from PowWow) I couldn’t check because I got “server not responding” errors. But the Zone itself is worth a browse.
There are a couple of real suggestions in Links (below) based on Google search; I haven’t checked them in any detail, but they both claim to be free for ever; and both have reasonable online summaries of features including maximum concurrent numbers. Any experience, or other suggestions, please add comments. Good hunting!
• Salesforce.com Acquires Dimdim, PR Newswire, 6 Jan 2011 (interestingly, this statement is not, at the time of writing, available on the salesforce.com site)
• Salesforce opens up Chatter developer preview, ZDnet news, 17 Mar 2010
• Free web conferencing software review – solutions that are truly free, Web Conferencing Zone, 22 Jul 2006
Genuinely free services:
• Vyew free for up to 10 people
• Mikogo free up to 25
• WebEx from Cisco