Web conferencing rarely delivers the seamless experience it promises. In practice, the first six or seven minutes of a Web meeting are spent asking each party to speak louder, download complex software, or adjust their cameras. But hope springs internal, and with this week's announcement from SlideShare that it's entering the market with Zipcast, the dream of a simple Web conference is renewed.
Users post to SlideShare to, quite obviously, share slides. With Zipcast, SlideShare is bringing a real-time, social element to the site--a natural evolution of the company's vibrant community. With 50 million visitors, 150 million page views, and 3 billion slide views per month, SlideShare already has established a professional user group that can begin using Zipcast with just a few clicks.
The beta version of Zipcast doesn't disappoint. Meetings can be public or private (password protected), and there's no limit to the meeting size. Meetings can be shared quickly via Facebook, Twitter, or the meeting's unique URL. A real-time chat window lets meeting participants chime in with questions or feedback as the host moves through the deck.
Salespeople can pitch on the fly, internal groups can pow-wow in real time, and Zipcast could even be considered a Webinar platform alternative. The best part is that all that's required is a browser.
SlideShare members can use Zipcast at the Basic level for free, for as many meetings as they want. Enterprises that want a custom channel, analytics, or lead tracking can pay to upgrade to Silver, Gold, or Platinum functionality. The Silver level provides 10 videos, LinkedIn extras, and 30 leads for $19 per month. At $49 per month, the Gold delivers 20 videos, a custom channel and 70 leads. Platinum supplies full branding, comment control, unlimited videos, and unlimited leads for $249 a month.
SlideShare says Zipcast meetings take less than 60 seconds to set up and begin. That kind of efficiency is restoring my faith in Web conferencing.
Paige Finkelman is the Launch Pad Chair for the Enterprise 2.0 and Cloud Connect conferences. Paige enjoys working with startups and writes about collaboration and the cultural implications of technology on society.