Demand soars for Web conferences

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Demand soars for Web conferences
The momentum is expected to continue for the next six years, according to analysts Frost & Sullivan, with a similar high per annum growth average forecast till 2014.

The firm claims 13 APAC countries earned revenues of US$25.3 million in 2007 and estimates this will reach US$237.4 million by the end of 2014.

Hosted Web conferencing services include those offered by service providers on a SaaS (Software as a Service) model for a pay-as-you-go fee (cost per user per minute) or fixed fee (cost per seat), and managed conferencing services.

On-site or premised-based conferencing solutions were excluded from the study.

“The huge demand in Web conferencing services is driven mainly by growing uptake in the SMB (small and medium business) sector in both emerging and mature markets, as well as the push by major local service providers in countries such as Japan and China,” said Pranabesh Nath analyst Frost & Sullivan.

“Service providers in China particularly have seen rapid growth with a record number of new users added each year. The number of hosted web conferencing service providers in China is also rising each year in tandem with the growing demand,” he said.

Revenues are expected to grow by an estimated 38.8 percent to reach a market size of US$35.2 million by the end of 2008, with Australia, Japan and Greater China the top three contributors.

The high-technology and BFSI (Banking, Financial Services and Insurance) sectors are expected to be the main adopters.

According to Nath, government efforts in promoting Internet use and Web-enabled technologies fuel the growth of Web conferencing services.

“As the Web conferencing market matures, webinars are expected to gain popularity given the substantial savings in set-up costs, and the ability to join a webinar from anywhere in the world,” said Nath.

He said VoIP audio integration will become more popular ‘as Web conferencing becomes an integral part of collaboration services, incorporating unified communications tools such as presence and IM (Instant Messaging) to offer better enterprise communications support and productivity tools’.

Nath added that Web conferencing services are increasingly integrated with on-premise unified conferencing clients and major vendors like Microsoft, Cisco and IBM have or are expected to deploy this very soon.

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