It may sound anachronous today, but not too long ago, you had to pay money to use email. The default email company (circa 1995-96) was Prodigy, till Hotmail came along and changed the rules of the game. Something similar happened with Skype, which has all but sounded the death knell for conventional international telephony. And now, a â€˜made-in-Indiaâ€™ product is attempting to do to web conferencing companies (WebEx/GoToMeeting), what Hotmail & Skype did to their respective competitors.
DimDim is an ISV that has created an open source web conferencing solution. It has been founded by a bunch of Indian software professionals who worked previously at CA. The company is US based, but a major part of the product has been built by their engineering team in Hyderabad. I was given a private demo from Boston by DimDimâ€™s founder DD Ganguly (seen here in the screenshot), sometime last month and I must say, I was really impressed with what they have built.
DDG describes DimDim as not just a web conferencing software but a rich media real time collaboration platform. Built completely on open source technologies, it does everything that Webex or GoToMeeting can and much more. I will take the liberty of decribing myself as a fairly advanced user of web conferencing softwares, for we (at Uzanto) use GTM everyday. What I found most stunning about DimDim is that, it is browser based and requires no installations for conference attendees. Many a times, we need to make presentations to clients who are sitting inside their corporate firewalls; coaxing them to install a software on their computers is a procedural nightmare. With DimDim, all that pain is gone.
DimDimâ€™s capabilities are built around the concept of microflows, which are small bits & pieces of interactions (in different media formats) between participants in a collaborative online meeting. Thus it allows you to show presentations, applications & desktops to anybody over the internet. You can chat and share live videos using your webcam (currently one way, but soon to be both ways) and talk with others in the meeting. Other features include whiteboards and something called a question manager, which seems to be some kind of a moderated interviewing mechanism (I didnâ€™t witness this). The demo I saw worked very well and as I mentioned earlier, I was simply overwhelmed by the fact, that this product is entirely browser based.
DimDim is currently in alpha and users can download its source code and install it on their servers for free. Presently only IE is supported for presenters while attendees can be on IE, FireFox or a Mac. Going forward, the company plans to have two ways of generating revenues- a reasonably priced hosted solution & a paid, enterprise level full feature solution.
The online collaboration space is hot property these days, with the advent of collaborative work requirements across multilocational teams. DimDim appears to have created a very powerful proposition at a very opportune time. Their commercial success will depend largely on how smartly they are able to market their product. Given the professional background of its founders, that should well be within their reach. Watch out for this product in future!