How do you take on PowerPoint, by far the most popular presentation software in use today?
Upstart SlideRocket figures the best way is to offer something different that it hopes users will find has compelling value.
Just as Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) has gone after Microsoft's Office suite with a cloud-based set of applications, SlideRocket is tapping the power of the cloud to give its presentation software flexibility and certain features that can't be found in Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) PowerPoint.
"We're reinventing the way people present themselves," SlideRocket CEO Chuck Dietrich told InternetNews.com. "We haven't had customers say, 'Gee, but I already have PowerPoint.' What they say is 'I can [get] great analytics on who's viewing the slides and product teams can collaborate and better manage the presentation process.'"
The latest version of SlideRocket, released Tuesday, adds a number of features, such as instant response forms and polls and collaborative comments that come via a kind of online sticky notes feature enabling viewers to append feedback for the presenter anywhere on the slide deck in real-time.
SlideRocket also offers a dashboard that lets presenters set preferences for people with whom they want to share the presentation and editing control. The dashboard also keeps tracks of a presentation's history through the creation and update process and monitors analytics.
Heidi Jackman, SlideRocket's vice president of marketing, said the design goal for the service was to turn presentations from a lecture to a conversation. "We want to make this extremely easy for people," Jackman told InternetNews.com. "If you know the basics of clicking and typing to create a presentation, you can do this."
Dietrich said SlideRocket users can easily import PowerPoint slides into a SlideRocket presentation. But if a user has a newer image of a product, for example, SlideRocket can automatically populate all his presentations with that newer image. "It's a new way to manage content that makes it a lot easier to stay up to date," he said.
And while SlideRocket is a software-as-a-service platform, Dietrich said users still have options when they're not connected.
"At any point a SlideRocket presentation can be exported to a standalone file and saved on your desktop or to a thumb drive with full fidelity, including embedded graphics and videos," he added.
Among the interactive features in the new version is the ability to bring real-time Twitter feeds into a presentation. If the presentation is saved to disk, the program will include a snapshot of the most recent Twitter feed.
SlideRocket Lite, with limited file size and the ability to create and share presentations online with up to five people, is available for free, but does not include the new features like analytics and real-time feeds features. SlideRocket Pro, with the full set of new features and 1 GB of storage per user, costs $24 monthly per account, and is available as a free 14-day trial.