Germany's Netviewer takes on WebEx, Microsoft

Small German company goes up against U.S. Web conferencing heavyweights with new client app

HANOVER, GERMANY -- A small German company is taking on U.S. Web conferencing heavyweights WebEx Communications and Microsoft with a new client application.

Netviewer of Karlsruhe, Germany, on Wednesday unveiled its new "one2meet" Web conferencing client. The launch, at the Cebit tradeshow in Hanover, Germany, is the company's first serious foray into the Web conferencing space, a spokeswoman said. The previous product lacked in functionality, she said.

Netviewer One2meet is a 300KB executable file. It does not make any changes to the system registry or install any DLL (dynamic link library) files, leaving the PC configuration untouched, according to Netviewer. By comparison, the WebEx Web conferencing client is a 4.4MB file.

Customers requested a small, easy to install, yet full-featured client, Netviewer representatives said during a news conference at Cebit. The Web conferencing features are similar to those offered by the large U.S. players and include application sharing, a white board and chat, they said.

Additionally, the Web conference host application has a special feature called a "back monitor" that shows what participants are seeing, Netviewer said. This feature, in addition with a "freeze" function can prevent the unwanted sharing of screens and information, the company said.

One2meet is available in English and German and will be available "shortly" in Spanish, French and Dutch, the company said. The software and Web conferencing service costs €4,990 ($6,681) for up to 10 concurrent online meetings and €6,990 for up to 25 concurrent meetings. Maintenance costs 15 percent of the list license price a year, but there is no usage fee, the company said.

Netviewer is privately held and employs about 70 people. The company also sells remote access software and a one-to-one Web conferencing product that is used primarily for tech support purposes. The bulk of its 1,800 customers are in Germany, though the company is expanding and has offices in other European countries as well as the U.S. Revenue last year was €4.1 million, a spokeswoman said.

Cebit runs through Wednesday.