I've had conversations recently with several vendors in the webinar/web conferencing space who are based outside of North America. Now I know it's sometimes hard for us Americans to remember that there is an entire global community doing business outside our hallowed territorial boundaries (What's worse... some of them don't even do business in English! What is the world coming to?), but I figured it was worth a quick review of some names I have tripped across lately.
My most recent note was from Paul Newman (no, really!) at In Situ Productions. This is a company based in England, providing videoconferencing and web conferencing services on "both sides of the pond." They have production crews that will travel to your site and set up audio and video broadcasting over the web. In Situ says they handle a global market with partner arrangements in Chicago, Dubai, and Sydney. The website has a beautifully produced demo webinar on the basics of webcasting. It shows how you can combine live video of a "talking head", an interactive survey, embedded recorded video, PowerPoint animations, Flash animations, and link-throughs. Nicely done. I'm also impressed by the actress they have reading the pitch. In addition to being very easy on the eyes, she gives a good example of how to appear on camera for a professional presentation. Slow, infrequent blink rate, eyes focused on the camera lens to build a connection with the viewer, head held in one position to prevent sea-sickness, a smile, measured speaking rate with pauses after each delivered content point. Watch this and take notes.
The web conferencing software that In Situ used for their demo is Podia. Podia is another UK-based webinar software company with an operation in Houston for handling the US market. I haven't used Podia on any of my client engagements, but it looked nice from an archived viewing perspective.
Continuing our travels across Europe, I had a nice little phone conversation with Robert Strobl at Digital Samba the other day. This company is based in Spain and has created their own web conferencing software called OnSync. In America it is sold through SpiderWeb Communications. OnSync is interesting in that it uses some of the same concepts that have made Adobe/Macromedia's Breeze so flexible over here. Fully Flash-based, it offers much better cross-platform compatibility than many others. It also allows the user to reconfigure the console layout, moving and resizing windows for different content and functionality emphasis.
Returning blog readers have seen several posts I have made about telepark and their teamslide product, coming from Germany.
Father afield, I got an email from David Chang at Haedenbridge in South Korea. Haedenbridge has a product called TOMMS FACTORY, which seems to be more of a generalized multipoint data/voice/video webcasting technology than something built specifically to support webinars. But it certainly has the capabilities to handle the technical side.
The US vendors haven't completely ignored the rest of the world either. Not a week goes by that I don't see press releases or news articles about WebEx in India. They have really been playing up business partnerships and sales in that country. The other US vendor that seems to spend the most press time on overseas activities is WiredRed, with its e/pop web conferencing software. WiredRed has offices and affiliates listed on its website in England, France, Norway, Spain, Italy, Bahrain, Singapore, India, and some unspecified Latin America country. That's a pretty wide-ranging network!
Frost and Sullivan is doing a web conference later this week on the state of the web conferencing market. Everything I have read tells me that North America (and specifically the US) has the largest share of the market at this time. I imagine that because we have such wide distances between businesses operating within the same country, because we all speak the same language (Manhattan vs. Baton Rouge notwithstanding), and because most businesses are comfortable with remote communications as a business model, it's easier to sell people on webinars and web conferencing here. But as the few examples above show (and there are plenty of others I didn't cover), one shouldn't get too myopic about America's ownership of the webinar market.
ADDENDUM: Shoot, I forgot to mention Live Conference PRO! Their US senior developer, Tom Eagar, took me through a very nice demo and Q&A session. Thank you, Tom! LC Pro is the web conferencing technology owned by Professional Global Marketing, a company headquartered in Panama. The company has been selling the technology in stealth mode... No proactive advertising and marketing beyond their website. Yet Tom tells me they have 400-500 customers. Live Conferencing PRO uses a unique approach to slide show sharing... If the presenter is showing a PowerPoint slide deck, the software looks for a copy of Microsoft PowerPoint on the attendee's computer, starts it up, and loads the PowerPoint file locally, with the presenter retaining remote control of the slide advancing! I haven't heard of anybody else taking this approach. If the attendee doesn't have PowerPoint, the software falls back to showing the slides converted to static HTML graphic images. The software also allows application sharing (full desktop, named application, or defined rectangular region), polling, rich media (music/video files), document downloading, and web page presentation to audience members.
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