Yugma has included a web conferencing component in its social networking and collaboration platform for some time. I wrote about Yugma web conferencing in the blog back in February. On Friday the COO of Yugma added a few postings to their corporate blog announcing changes to their web conferencing support.
The first post announced upcoming support for VoIP audio broadcasting. For those of you not into acronyms, this just means the ability to listen to audio over your computer speakers, rather than having to dial in on a telephone. Yugma is targeting a Beta version of audio webcasting by the end of June. Many webinar attendees prefer to listen to audio through their computers, so this is an important option. I am a little concerned about the way he phrased it in the blog post, using the phrase "computer to computer." I hope this doesn't mean the speaker needs to use a computer-connected microphone for VoIP audio. While that is an inexpensive and easy way to implement the feature, it eliminates the ability to simultaneously distribute your event audio over telephone and computer, letting your audience choose their favorite delivery channel. VoIP is still subject to poor reception on slow or noisy internet connections and I like to give people the option to call in if they have problems with broadcast sound. I also find it harder to work with computer-input microphones than telephones in multiple-speaker events. And finally, the quality level of the microphones found on many users' computers is far lower than that in the telephone handsets they all have. We'll see how they roll it out in a few weeks.
The second post announced the creation of two new paid service levels for supporting group web events. Yugma Premium 30 and Premium 100 are priced at $29.95 and $69.95 per month for the ability to host up to 30 or 100 attendees per meeting. That's certainly within the ballpark for similar per month flat pricing levels from their competitors. But along with this announcement came word that all event attendees must register as Yugma users before proceeding to their session space. This "enables all attendees to instantly become members of the Yugma community and allows them to easily return and use Yugma any time." I'm not so sure I want my event attendees to have to go through an extra registration step and "become members of the Yugma community" just to hear my information. I think this could cut down on the number of people willing to go through the process. If I buy a subscription to use a vendor's conferencing services, I accept the fact that I am on their lists for mailings, solicitations, news and support. But I don't expect to be a nonstop lead provider for that vendor simply by hosting events and inviting people to attend.
The marketplace will vote with its dollars. I'll be watching with interest to see the success of Yugma's web conferencing changes.
UPDATE (June 18) - I got a very fast response from Karel Lukas, the COO who posted the entries on the Yugma blog. He says that based on comments and suggestions from Premium subscribers, Yugma has decided to not require registration from meeting attendees. He expects to have the registration implementation changed by the middle of this week. Good for Yugma. That's a nice quick reaction to customer feedback.