Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Teamslide could disrupt WebEx

Munich, Germany based Teamslide is a new and very low cost alternative to services like WebEx, Placeware and GotToMeeting that allow people to share applications (like power point) online.

A typical use of WebEx, Placeware, GoToMeeting, etc. is a sales call. The host, or presenter, sets up the call using WebEx software. The attendees click a link in an email at the scheduled time, and everyone is joined in a virtual meeting. The host is able to share applications (powerpoint, browser, pdf, Word, etc.) and make the pitch.

A drawback of all of the existing services is price and the need for browser plugins for both hosts and attendees. WebEx and Placeware both have minimum pricing of $375/month, and GoToMeeting is a minimum of $50/month. And anyone that has used these services knows that they kill you on usage fees, over and above the minimum prices.

Teamslide, which just launched, has many of the features of the other services, is much easier to use (no plugins or other software for host or attendees) and is a fraction of the price. The downside is that, at least in its current implementation, it requires a server-side software installation.

The service requires only a browser for both host and attendees, has an Ajax interface and can be used to share presentation slides (in a proprietary Teamslide format). They’ve created a plugin for easy conversion from powerpoint. See more details of the service in their demo.

Based on the demo (linked above), which is a live implementation of the service, Teamslide is significantly easier to use than WebEx (I’ve been the victim of many failed WebEx presentations). A clear limitation of Teamslide is that it only shares presentation slides, whereas WebEx really shines when sharing a browser and other applications. But until now the only real alternative to WebEx, besides an in person meeting, was emailing of files before the presentation. Services like Teamslide, as well as online versions of powerpoint like Thumbstacks, are starting to change that.

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