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Do you wish Breeze was less expensive? You got your wish: Adobe Connect. But look closely.

Note: This blog post is from 2006. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.
Folks who have longed to use Breeze but couldn't afford it got great news today, in its rebranding today as Adobe Connect. Now starting at $39/month or $395/year, it makes breeze much more affordable.

Note that I say starting at because there are going to be two editions, with the full-featured version being called Adobe Connect Professional. Many will miss that in the early hours of this announcement, I fear.

Note as well that it's not released today, but will be in November, "as a free trial version through the end of the calendar year. The commercial release of Acrobat Connect, initially available in English, is expected to be available in early 2007," according to the press release.

The base version is limited to just one meeting room, and to a maximum of 15 participants, which is still fine for many needs. Further, it will NOT include audio (which means you have to use the phone and a conference call for audio), and it will not include the ability to record meetings (important for some), among other things.

Adobe outlines all the differences in a comparison of the two editions.

Still, the base edition does include screen sharing, chat, and more. And even for 15 people it compares very favorably to other solutions in that space, such as GotoMeeting, which I've long favored because of its more reasonable price. Breeze, or I mean, Adobe Connect, will give that a serious run for its money.

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Comments
Charlie, I had the same concerns. The price is wonderful, but the lack of audio is surprising. What really worries me is that we have a low end edition and what seems to be a super high end edition. I don't thin pricing is available for it, but I'm worried it may be pretty high. I hope I'm wrong and there is an affordable "middle ground."
# Posted By Raymond Camden | 9/18/06 6:07 PM
I often miss the point on some of these things, but I followed the link to the comparison of the products to take a look. I see that you are right that audio is not included in the "cheap" version. But what suprised me is that video was? What good is video going to do you if you cant send the audio with it. I get really annoyed when video and audio get out of sync and if we have to use our own conference call to get audio, they will likely never be in sync.

On the other side of that Adobe lists "Flexible licensing model" for the Professional version, so maybe there will be mutliple price pionts of that so that we can get some of those other features back.
# Posted By Simeon | 9/18/06 6:22 PM
The audio video things seems backwards to me. Why not include audio, which is much less bandwidth intensive anyway, and ditch the video. Glad you pointed this out, as I did indeed miss the lack of audio support when going over the info.
# Posted By Rick | 9/18/06 6:35 PM
You all make good points. I'd missed the video, but honestly that's because I just never use it. I just want to do shared desktop and optionally audio. Perhaps there's some clarification that will come, as clearly having video without audio does seem curious.

That said, I will say that if they meant not to offer video, I wouldn't see that as a negative. The feature set competes favorably with other similar solutions at the same price point (like GotoMeeting), which also do not include audio (or video). I've been using the latter for a couple of years, doing demos and offering support. I just would call people on the phone, which was honestly better than audio over the net. Admittedly, I wasn't typically having more than a few people (and usually only one) on the call, so this really is serving that particular niche.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 9/18/06 6:39 PM
Just want to point out a blog entry from someone raising a reasonable beef with the renaming of the product. I have to admit, in my excitement about the price change, I overlooked that. He makes a good point:

http://brainfrieze.n...

Also, I think we'll all miss referring to them as breezo's. I'm afraid "connectos" just won't cut it. :-)
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 9/18/06 7:07 PM
too bad about the audio. that will pretty much kill this for international users.
# Posted By PaulH | 9/18/06 7:26 PM
A drastic price drop like that can only mean that the current edition is nothing short of worthless.

The problem with things like breeze is a matter of interface and the quality of the interface. Take for example a shared whiteboard. Programmatically, this seems novel and important, yet without the proper human-computer interface such as tablet-pc, a whiteboard cannot extend itself beyond the mouse-metaphor. More complicated symbols/words cannot be conveyed and the tool becomes waste.

The problem with video is that it takes too much buck for a bang. I contend that with good quality video and a decent line to back it up, most of these clever programmed gadgetry will disappear all together. Unfortunately at this juncture, gadgetry like the whiteboard save money and hence still have some use.

Audio would be good if they have echo cancellation. Have they fixed that yet?
# Posted By Xiaolei Shi | 9/18/06 10:54 PM
The reason we never used it was

1. Price
2. You have to pay forever to keep your meetings.

So the inability to record and save historically your meetings is a joke.

However, this is standard Macromedia pricing (or was) charge a price for it and see if it still sells. Ala Flex when it doesn't and the competition has caught up, then drop the price.
# Posted By Dale Fraser | 9/18/06 11:14 PM
Hang on.

What has this product got to do with Acrobat? I must have missed something. I thought Acrobat was Adobe's PDF technology products.
# Posted By Dale Fraser | 9/18/06 11:19 PM
Let me address the last 3 comments:

Xiaolei: I don't see the price drop as indicating that the product is worthless. Not at all. As I've said in the post and in comments, it just brings it in line with a number of other products offering similar features at that lower price point. It's just meeting a need. (And in that space, I can say that I never used the whiteboard or video, and didn't miss them.) As for echo cancellation, that's not a feature of Connect but Connect Pro, which is not out yet, so no telling if any problems are fixed.

Dale: about not being able to save meetings, again, for the price offered, they had to drop some features. Other packages in this space have not offered recordings, and again for years I didn't miss that (the live meeting was as important as any recording, and I could always record it using other tools if I really needed to.) That said, GoToMeeting did start offering recording last year, so this does put it above AC on that count.

As for what it has to do with Acrobat, I saw a useful explanation from Sean Corfield on a Community Experts (private) forum but I don't feel it's appropriate to share it. Hopefully he will be blogging about it soon. He has just an introductory one on it for now. When you hear it, I think you'll agree it makes some sense.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 9/19/06 1:13 AM
Curious, You are not using Breeze for either video or whiteboard. How is Breeze beneficial to you? I'm sure there are cheaper ways to deliver streaming audio to a group of receptive audience members. Chat is a dime a dozen, and any interactive widgets are basically bells and whistles.

Is screensharing the only reason you got Breeze? I'm certain there are considerably cheaper Alternatives. FlashCom + Free Apps + video driver should be the closest alternative to what you are looking for. It's 'meeting a need' but at a delayed rate,and in a market economy that translates to loss. I contend that it is failure because of the ridiculous price point, and appeasement in its adoption in the corporate landscape.

Video (Sorenson + VP6) for me is flash's catalytic entrance into the web 2.0 sphere and not flex. Grant flex is beautiful, it doesn't translate to practical.At the moment, I see no real legitimate breakthrough involving the flex framework.
# Posted By Xiaolei Shi | 9/19/06 3:28 PM
Xiaolei, you've somehow lost a thread in reading the comments. No, I was saying that in my past use of alternatives at this price point, I do not use audio (over the web) or video. In those cases, I do just use the desktop sharing . No, I wouldn't pay $300 a month for that alone, but I was willing to pay $40 per month for it (for up to 15 users, no limit to the number or duration of meetings, with GotoMeeting). This new Connect offering is in line with that, though GotoMeeting did offer an optional teleconferencing bridge--it would be long distance to the callers, but was free for me to setup, and they did just start the offering to do recording, all at $40 per month (on an annual contract).
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 9/19/06 3:53 PM
Ahh, I was confusing this blog with some other blog griping about the Breeze name change. Embarressing as it is, my point still stands: Breeze (despite name change and pricing change) is a gimmick to con corporations out of money, and that much better solutions exist.

My problem with GotoMeeting is that it has a pricing structure at various levels of commitment.
FlashComm has unfortunately been overlooked as a viable candidate for conferencing purposes. Red5 is another contender in terms of conferencing, Moreover Red5 is free.

Corporations/Universities (those with enough capital) should consider Flashcom or Red5 along decent hardware backing. Application logic control, branding, ratio of size to cost much larger than commercial services.

Smaller Companies or Groups that want screensharing and voice should consider free alternatives: VNC programs coupled with some voice program, ie skype.

Breeze, GotoMeeting, Marratech.. blah blah blah are all exercises in overabstraction and aggregation of simple services, creating needless dependencies that hemmorage money out of companies that are at the moment, ignorant of the technological landscape. Similar parrallels are occuring with content management systems, where competing programs are resorting to aggressive tactics (patents) to perserve business, when such practices are completely antithetical to technological growth.
# Posted By Xiaolei Shi | 9/19/06 5:41 PM
I really have to disagree Xiaolei. While I haven't used _all_ the other meeting services out there, I can say that Breeze works _extremely_ well. I've been very pleased with it everytime I've used it and I find it to be perfect for my needs. (Ignoring cost of course. ;)
# Posted By Raymond Camden | 9/19/06 5:59 PM
Yeah, you're clearly on quite a tirade there, Xiaolei, and to each their own. More than that, it seems you have in mind a use of such tools that is different than what I and many use it for. You need to think twice about dismissing all these vendors and their users so readily.

For instance, I disagree with your last two paragraphs. GotoMeeting (or Adobe connect) are not at all the same as using VNC with skype.

VNC is not only 1-to-1 (as opposed to one to up to 15) but even the 1-1 nature in VNC is where one person takes over the screen of another. That's not at all what many do (and generally I did) with GotoMeeting (or typically with Breeze), where instead they're used to show the screen of a host to a guest. Certainly, a host in such a case doesn't want to give the guest (a client or prospect, for instance, or someone they're giving support to) VNC access into their machine. Do you see how that's quite different? Further, they often want to show it to many at once, which VNC can't do at all.

Far more important, tools like VNC require opening a firewall on both ends. If I'm setting up a discussion with a client or prospect or providing support for someone, they're not likely going to be able to get a firewall port opened in their environment (whether an individual or in an organization). These tools get around that.

So if you feel that you don' t need these tools, that's cool, but really, you're inappropriately casting aspersions on a very large market segment. I can tell you that I've had many, many people come away from interactions on Gotomeeting or Breeze saying, "wow this is cool and will save us so much money". They're not being stupid. It's solving a problem for them, and in capitalism, the mantra is "find a need and fill it".
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 9/19/06 6:18 PM
The claim that VNC allows clients to control the host machine is incomplete. It's possible only at the permission of the host. Security issues have been discovered and patched accordinly like all programs. The only outstanding issue is security is that certain flavors of VNC uses Data Encryption Standard of yester-year and has been broken via brute force methods. RTMP has similar issues, and hence Breeze(all macrodobe) has similar issues regarding security.

Also from realVNC.com:

"VNC can also be used in educational contexts, for example to allow a distributed group of students simultaneously to view a computer screen being manipulated by an instructor, or to allow the instructor to take control of the students' computers to provide assistance."

the words group and simultaneous stand out, unless they are lying.

Also in regards to opening up ports: Breeze opens up port 1935, VNC opens up port 5900, GoToMeeting opens up ports on 8200. I think in both you can change them to whatever you like it to be. How is your argument on 'port security' not an issue with Breeze or any other executable that need to talk to a server?

Yes, I am on the belief that certain tools are useless and the only reason people use them is that they abstract the the effort (and life imho) out of implementing valid solutions for business. FMS/Red5 is easy, cheap (in comparison), and one or two relatively entry level programmers can build a stable system.

The distinction between you and me is that I believe in solutions that can be supplanted with substitutes at relatively low cost to business. Breeze is easy and functional, but FMS/Red5 is easy enough, and cheap. I fail to see how that's a tirade, I'm not peddling Open Source here and screaming Gentoo, a valid substitute is FMS and writing logic for it is ridiculously easy.

The popularity of these systems has not been due to their functionality but through advertising, that is the important aspect of Capitalism being exercised and not the assumption that everyone happens to be an ideal player with universal knowledge.

Saying "Wow this is cool and save us so much money" is conclusive and without the appropriate premises to reach such a conclusion. The phrase is an effect and not an argument.
# Posted By Xiaolei Shi | 9/19/06 11:18 PM
Well Breeze doesn't require extra ports to be open at the client end so a user on a firewalled network can easily get out to a host somewhere on the internet. The same isn't true for VNC in it's default config - if 5900 is blocked at the firewall then you can't contact the remote host.

Unfortunately there are no nice solutions, that I've found, that can compete with Breeze on any level. Breeze is simple for clients, it looks great, and it just works. It's perfect where your end users really are clueless about everything to do with computers, but they can easily click on a link to join a Breeze presentation :)
# Posted By Justin Carter | 9/20/06 4:12 AM
Xiaolei (or Kevin, as your blog's "about" page says you prefer to be called, at http://tanstaafl.wor...), you say, regarding the quote from realvnc, that "the words group and simultaneous stand out, unless they are lying."

Well help a brother out, dude. If you're saying that VNC can be used in such a group mode, tell us how. I get the sense that you regard me as being a purveyor of commercial tools who needs to be put in his place. I'm all for using free tools if they do the job. This just hasn't in my past experience. If I've got a misunderstanding about the possibility of using VNC for this sort of work, I'm all for learning something new.

Even so, I've spent several minutes searching and reading the RealVNC site and I don't find much on this concept. When I view the front page and even the about page at realvnc (http://www.realvnc.c...), they still talk about 2 computers. I did finally find in their list archives discussion of a "shared connection" feature, at http://www.realvnc.c..., but I couldn't find mention of its use for this approach anywhere else on the site.

So it seems such use may be possible, but they aren't going out of their way to clarify how one would use it that way. Indeed, the next message in that thread discusses a TightProjector alternative that does things differently, so maybe there's a reason they don't promote its use other than on that one "marketing" page, where perhaps it's there more to fend off the accusation that it's only for 1-to-1 use. (They do sell licenses for the enterprise edition after all, so they're into capitalism as well.)

Have you yourself used it that way? If so, do tell us how. Share, teach. If you've not, then you're doing the same kind of peddling (and pandering) that it seems you feel I've been doing. I am speaking from my experience with the tools.

Indeed, regarding your ports contention, I've never had to open port 8200 in 2 years of using GotoMeeting from several machines. And I know my end users have not. I just looked at their docs and see that it tries that port for some reason, but if it doesn't get it, it just uses 80 or 443. Both Gotomeeting and Breeze work over HTTP and can get out on only port 80 (or 443), from the visiting user's perspective. VNC solutions do not.

FInally, you talk about the ease of "building systems" and "writing logic". so you're clearly coming from a different perspective than most users of tools like GotoMeeting and Breeze. Indeed, your page says it all: "I am a Chemistry major as well as a Pretentious Mathematics major. and like everyone else I desperately need to grow up." You just can't expect most business users to match your level of intelligence. And if I've proven to not do so as well, then let's just leave it at "you win".

I think we've beaten the subject enough. Please take up your crusade against Breeze on your own blog. I was just trying to help out those who do enjoy the product.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 9/20/06 12:43 PM
I have to say I don't understand what Xiaolei is on about here - seems to be completely unrelated to the main point of Charlie's post. Especially since Breeze is built on FMS (FCS was the old name for FMS). Xiaolei clearly has not read the Connect / Connect Pro information on the site, including the product comparison page.
# Posted By Sean Corfield | 9/21/06 2:55 AM
Sean,

I made what I believed to be an obvious claim, which was that Breeze lowering it's price and turning was simply the market correcting itself.The sudden change in name and price is (imho) indicative of at least some handwaving on the part of Adobe. Common sense.

The suggestion that Adobe Connect is less expensive does not immediately connotate that it should be the right implementation for business; corporate or otherwise. Factors like functionality, ease-of-use, security, cost both in terms of software and it's maintenance should all be considerations in choosing one product over another. Issues which no one wants to discuss up for whatever reason, and take it as a personal affront when I question their claims. Charlie, despite being an author, has managed brusquely label me (not my arguments) as anti-capitalist and ivory tower.

It has become a common trend for industry bloggers to propagandize over the internet. I respond with fairly simple questions, albeit with a harsh tongue, my mind is still open to reason. Go back to blogging about your MacBook Pro Sean, as you can tell from MXNA no one really cares about what you have to say about anything else.
# Posted By Xiaolei Shi | 9/21/06 12:05 PM
Xiaolei/Kevin, about your last sentence blasting Sean, you're really shooting down your own credibility. There is *certainly* a huge audience that cares very much about what Sean has to say on most anything.

If you feel that people respond unfairly to your comments, it's because you make them with seeming reckless abandon. As for my brusque reply to you, I feel confident that I've simply responded fairly and accurately to some pretty overstated assertions. I've not taken affront at them. I've just called you on them. Far from "not wanting to discuss" them, I just want to have a reasonable discussion, rather than a heated one.

And as for insinuating that I'm a part of the propaganda machine you decry, here I'm discussing GotoMeeting as much as Adobe Connect. Indeed, the crux of my blog entry was to say that despite the price lowering, it may still not meet the needs of many, and that people should take note. And since it's yet to be released, I kind of hoped that the discussion might influence the product team (if others chimed in in support, I mean).

But look, let's dial this down a bit. I don't think we know each other, and just as email can lead to flame wars, let's not let that happen here. In fact, I want to point out that Kevin's very kindly brought to folks attention the plight of a little girl with an inoperable brain tumor and is seeking support for her (see the bottom of his Aug 29th "Flex/Karaoke" entry, at http://tanstaafl.wor...). Good on you for that.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 9/21/06 1:03 PM
@Xiaolei:

Errr. Personal attacks aside...

No offense but Charlie never said it was the 100% right implementation for business - the post title qualifies this with "But look closely". Charlie is also reasonably critical of the features in the base edition... So I'm not sure how this whole rant started, like everyone was preaching Breeze as solving the worlds problems!? :P This post was just letting people know that changes have been announced and for the better overall!

As a few of us have said above, it's a great product and it does what it does very well. If you can afford the price tag then that's cool and if you can't then by all means look at other solutions but don't rag out Breeze just because it costs more than others. You can't fault it on all the other factors you mention: ease-of-use, security and maintenance.

If you find another product which you think is just as polished and comes at a fraction of the price tag, please blog about it because a lot of people will be interested ;)
# Posted By Justin Carter | 9/21/06 6:14 PM
Xia you are an idiot. Get a life
# Posted By Moo Kahn | 3/7/07 7:39 PM
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# Posted By Einemillioneurohomepage für Onlineshops | 4/3/07 7:42 PM
I have been using Breeze to deliver lectures to students. Breeze I use has all the video/audio/recording options. It also offers a whiteboard and a screen/file sharing option. Watching the Demo with Robert Scobble on Adobe Connect, it sounds like it is the same software.

The thing that I cannot do is to handwrite. Anyone knows any accessory that would allow me to handwrite on my screen and share what I am writing live with the audience?
# Posted By Leo | 6/28/07 3:32 PM
@Leo, Macromedia Breeze = Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional. Charlie's point was that there is now an Adobe Acrobat Connect at a lower price, with fewer features.

As for handwriting on screen, use the Pause And Annotate feature. Check in the help docs if you can't find it in the menus (I don't remember where it is).
# Posted By Sean Corfield | 6/30/07 1:39 AM
I have to comment on the versitility of the Connect product. We use it as a marketing tool and it's extremely useful communicating to a large audience. We've reduced the number of repeat questions coming into our customer support lines and now have an efficient way of educating clients on our business (Foreign Exchange Trading).

Setting up the hosted plan was very easy and the support so far from Adobe has been exceptional. The only issues we've seen is with video hiccuping on occaision but the flash files are pretty large (50mb).

Going forward it is a great investment and key marketing tool.
# Posted By Justin Howley | 7/16/07 2:50 PM
Hi internet denizens, what a stimulating and passionate discussion we have here! I think, separating the substance from the rhetoric, there are good points being made all around.

I have been looking for what I thought was a fairly simple solution: an audio/video conferencing web application with whiteboard functionality. As a small tutoring company, my budget wasn't very large, and I was secretly hoping for a sophisticated open source solution.

Well, I stumbled onto Adobe Connect Professional, and after the free trial I was very excited! It had everything I needed...then I see the $474 / mo price tag (which includes audio/video). The only client I have right now in this fledgling online tutoring is a family in Taiwan, so it makes no business sense.

So I take a look at Adobe Connect, and though I am told by and Adobe sales rep that there is whiteboard functionality, I see no options for a whiteboard. Participants are not allowed to be presenters either, so they cannot interact with the host presenter even on screenshots. And, there is no audio!! Though the price is right @ ~$35/mo, the solution breaks down seriously. Where is the happy medium?!!! I would be happy to pay ~$100/mo for 1 on 1 Adobe Connect Pro functionality...

Anyhow, thank you for the alternatives that were suggested, I will look into VNC, Gotomeeting, Marratech, red 5, etc etc. If you know any solutions that fit the bill, please don't hesitate to email me.

And lastly, we all need to grow up, and continue growing. If we are not growing, we are either stagnating or dying. Realizing the need to grow is an important thing, because we see how far we fall short of being who we would like to be -- not only in ways that matter to the world, like being a great programmer, being a brilliant scientist or the next Einstein -- but more importantly in a way that matters eternally. Who cares if you are the most brilliant genius ever, and yet you are wicked and have left legacies of emptiness or pain or hurt all around you? Or if you are a person of great wealth, respected by all, doing philanthropic deeds, and yet when you pass away you wonder where you are going and why you did all that? What does it profit a man to gain the world, but neglect to take care of his own soul?

Coming face to face with my own inadequacies and failure to be good and do good led me to ponder this question with seriousness and a humbled honesty. After many years of trying what the world had to offer, I chose to accept the grace of God -- Jesus Christ who died on the cross to take away our sins, give us his righteousness, and open the way to eternal life in heaven. Who can measure a soul or a spirit -- that invisible essence that leaves a person when he/she dies? Hmmm...I can't think of anyone.

The gospel is foolishness according to the wisdom of the world, and a stumbling block to the Jews who were waiting for a conquering king -- but the more you seek to understand the essence of words of Jesus and the inspired writers of the Bible, the more you will see that the invisible, unseen God is the way, the truth and the life.

Daniel from Los Angeles
# Posted By Daniel | 7/19/07 4:29 PM
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