Here we have a web warrior who posted a short slide show demonstrating how to build your own collaborative web conferencing solution using a combination of free downloads and no programming other than simple web page construction.
If the embedded slide show didn't display, you can watch it online at http://www.slideshare.net/ccosmato/conferencing-on-the-cheap-with-web-2
You can play with his final result at this web page: http://www.radford.edu/ccosmato/room/
Now this isn't going to win any awards for the most feature rich, nicely integrated piece of business/consumer software ever produced. That's not the point. View the result in the same way that you would view a concept car from an automobile manufacturer or wacky designer outfits in a high end fashion show. They are ways of demonstrating an idea, showing how elements can be brought together in new and innovative ways.
In this case, we see that chat features, file downloading, and slide presentation can be easily integrated and shared using completely free utilities. Chaz didn't include a live PowerPoint slide sharing utility, but he could have... they are available for free as well.
If I were a web conferencing software manufacturer concentrating on cheap forms of small group collaboration, I'd be shaking in my boots about the implications of this. Low-end collaboration is getting commoditized and provided for free to the masses. It is not hard to build a fully functional productized version and distribute it for free as a loss leader to gain market awareness or as a way to generate revenues from ad sharing or something similar. Yugma is an example of one vendor who is already doing this with a complete web conferencing solution that is free for groups of up to 10 people.
Yes, all you outraged vendors... I am glossing over some important considerations that are very real. These kinds of mashups are susceptible to incompatibilities that creep in as the various component products change in new releases. There is no centralized support possible. Formal QA and testing are unlikely. I wouldn't want to rely on a mashup like this as a vital tool for my business. But as a concept, it shows where small group web collaboration is headed. And that direction is not big revenues for software vendors.
Value add in collaborative web conferencing is increasingly important. Great service, additional features, or performance that is above and beyond what anyone else can do. Because the basics are going to be expected by consumers as free and universally available utilities, just like the instant messaging they use for free today.
Technorati Tags: Chaz Maloney, web collaboration, web conference, web conferencing, web meeting, Yugma