Amazon Web Services is a highly successful cloud company, but that doesn't mean it's simply content to rest on its success. It's continually looking for new areas to exploit. Just this week, it announced Chime, which has been billed as a unified communication tool.
If that sounds like Google, Cisco, or Microsoft territory to you, you're right. Cisco has a number of communications products including Cisco Spark, while Microsoft has Skype for Business and Google has Hangouts. Just because Amazon builds something isn't a guarantee of success, but simply by introducing an offering like this, its putting the competition on notice that it isn't ceding any part of the cloud to anyone.
It suggests that Amazon could be thinking about, not just the nuts and bolts of infrastructure and platform, but also the enterprise software running on it, an area it has for the most part left to others up until now.
Perhaps Amazon has looked out at the enterprise SaaS landscape and sees another area of the cloud it could capitalize on. The most successful company so far to this point, in this space, is Salesforce, which is on a $10 billion run rate. Meanwhile, Microsoft in addition to Azure has Office 365 and Google has G Suite in addition to Google Cloud Platform.
These software pieces don't necessarily live in isolation. More likely they drive each other. People who use Office 365 might also buy Azure infrastructure services. The same likely goes for Google and G Suite, and if that's the case, if AWS wants to maintain its substantial lead in the cloud, it's going to need some services that compete with those popular entries.
AWS hasn't given any indication that this week's announcement is part of a broader strategy to move further into enterprise software, but it certainly appears to be signal that it could be. Chime itself is your typical unified communications play. It includes video, voice, and chat in the cloud, but it's certainly not the only company doing this (even when you factor in the regular cloud competitors).
There's also Zoom, which recently got $100 million investment from Sequoia and Fuze, which got $104 million investment. Meanwhile, Cisco just announced the Spark Board and last fall, Google announced a similar product called Google Jamboard. All of this suggests that there is a great deal of activity in this space and will be difficult for any company, even one as large as Amazon to break into.
Amazon is hoping to compete on price offering a free edition (as do Skype and Hangouts), Chime Plus for $2.50 per user per month, and Chime Pro for $15 per user per month.
Perhaps Amazon just wants to begin putting tools out there and Chime is a first step. It would certainly make sense for Amazon to begin offering other types of software over time, but they face a tough battle across the software landscape full of established players with products people are comfortable using.(c) Can Stock Photo / AndreyPopov