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Exclusive: Zoho's Showtime app battles boring presentations

Mark Hachman | Sept. 23, 2014
An audience busily typing into their laptops as you give your presentation may be the most engaged, fascinated audience you'll ever have. Or they may be busily surfing cat videos. How do you tell? Zoho's Showtime app knows.

Zoho has tried to differentiate itself from the competition with capabilities others have passed over. Microsoft's PowerPoint may be the presentation market leader by far, but a number of online productivity providers have carved out their own niches, among them Google Docs, Prezi, and SlideRocket. SlideRocket, purchased by VMware in 2011, probably comes the closest to Zoho, with its own per-slide commenting and analytics.

Not all of the components that Showtime offered are revolutionary. Remote presentation and videoconferencing packages like Cisco's WebEx allow users to "raise their hands" and ask questions, and there are several ways to record a screencast and then archive it online. Still, the integration between desktop and mobile apps, and the intriguing, detailed analytics, could be of real use to those who make promotional pitches or sales presentations for a living.

What Zoho showed was an early version of what the company hopes to ship in a few weeks, with more pomp and polish behind it. Showtime will be offered as part of the Zoho Docs subscription plan, which is actually free unless users opt into more advanced features, such as password-protected file sharing. Zoho also charges separate fees for other app bundles. It Zoho Books invoice app, for example, costs $24 per month per organization. When Zoho Showtime does launch, it'll be worth checking out.


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