Head-To-Head: Amazon Chime Vs. Microsoft Skype

Face Off

On Tuesday, Amazon jumped into the communications technology space with a new service called Chime (pictured), focused on online meetings and collaboration between dispersed team members. While plenty of solutions exist for online meetings, but Amazon wants to simplify things by bringing different tools together in a centralized hub, while also improving video and audio quality. In nutshell, Amazon wants to fix what's broken with online team meetings.

But how does Chime compare to one of the most prevalent solutions out there for team communication, Microsoft's Skype service? For one thing, on price, the fully featured version of Chime is well above the price of Skype for Business (though paying the extra money may just be worth it for some organizations). In the following slides, we compare the key features and pricing of Amazon Chime and Microsoft Skype.

One Service To Rule Them All

One key difference is that Skype is actually several different service offerings, which can be pretty confusing. There's the standard "consumer" version of Skype, of course, and then there's Skype for Business and then a third offering called Skype Meetings. Each version has video calling but is distinct in terms of how many users you can call and other included features. To complicate matters further, Microsoft's emphasis is really on selling Skype for Business as part of an Office 365 subscription, rather than as a standalone service. (As you'll see in a later slide, Skype for Business as a standalone service with video calling actually costs more than the entry level Office 365 -- which includes Skype for Business.) Piecing all of this together required visits to multiple different pages and a query into a Microsoft customer service representative.

Amazon Chime, by contrast, is a single service, and the features are spelled out pretty clearly on one page. The service does have three different tiers, but those, too, are clearly defined by Amazon.


The emphasis on simplicity also extends to the user interface on Amazon Chime. In a brief tryout, we found it intuitive to launch a Chime video meeting with multiple participants, for instance. While Skype for Business does offer video meetings, it's more oriented toward instant messaging and one-on-one video chats, and the method for launching a video meeting requires a bit more trial and error. Our takeaway is that Amazon Chime's user interface was built with video meetings in mind; Skype for Business was not.

Scheduling A Meeting

Another big differentiator for Amazon Chime is in the ability to schedule a video meeting. While both Amazon Chime and Skype for Business require going through a few steps to do this, and interacting with your online calendar, Chime does make it easier in our view. There's a tab at the top of the Chime app that says "Meetings," and under that is "Schedule a Meeting" and, from there, some simple instructions are provided that you just have to follow. In Skype for Business, you can't schedule a video meeting in the app itself, but instead, you must go into your Outlook calendar (something that I only found out through Googling). You then must create a new calendar item, find the "Skype Meeting" icon and schedule the video meeting from there. None of this is obvious -- we watched a video to learn how to do this.

Notably, Amazon Chime also automatically calls meeting participants when a scheduled meeting is about to start, and users can join the meeting with a click.

Call Noise

Amazon says it's taken measures to reduce some of the audio issues that often plague online meetings, namely with noise-cancelling wideband audio technology as part of Chime. The company also says that Chime makes it easier to figure out where unwanted call noise is coming from, by providing a visual roster of call attendees and showing which attendees are producing sound. In addition, all attendees are given the ability to mute a noisy line at any point.

Shared Features

Depending on the plan chosen, both Amazon Chime and Skype for Business offer additional features such as content sharing, instant messaging, screen sharing, meeting recording and voice calls.

As far as platforms, both Chime and Skype for Business are available as downloadable apps for Windows, macOS, iOS and Android. Skype for Business is also available in web and Windows 10 Mobile versions.

Free Versions

There are entry-level versions of both Chime and Skype available for free. For Skype, that's simply the traditional consumer Skype app, which allows video free calling with up to 10 people (but doesn't include additional collaboration features). A newer service, called Skype Meetings, allows for free video calling and screen sharing with up to 10 people, for the first 60 days (after that it shrinks down to three people).

The free tier for Chime offers free video calling when it's just between two people, as well as chat and chat rooms. Amazon is also offering a 30-day free trial of the full Chime service.


As mentioned, Microsoft's emphasis is on selling Office 365 subscriptions, which includes Skype for Business, as opposed to selling Skype for Business in a standalone manner. The entry-level Office 365 Business Essentials is priced at $5 per user, per month, which allows for video calling with up to 250 people (in addition to all of the other Skype for Business features). That also brings the full suite of Office apps, in their online versions, though the price does require an annual commitment. To get a standalone version of Skype for Business with video calling, Microsoft charges slightly more -- $5.50 per user, per month (with an annual commitment).

Downloadable versions of the Office apps, as well as Skype for Business, are available with an annual commitment to Office 365 Business Premium, which is priced at $12.50 per user per month.

Amazon Chime is more expensive -- $15 per user per month for the top-level "Pro" version. That price includes video calling with up to 100 people and the full set of other Chime features, such as screen sharing and meeting recording. A $2.50 per user, per month version, Chime Plus, offers one-to-one video calling and a few features not in the free version, such as screen sharing.