Thursday, May 28, 2009

VIA3 CEO Challenges WebEx to Web Conferencing “Taste Test”

Buoyed by a recent usability lab test which showed VIA3 favored over WebEx 7 to 1, VIA3 CEO Neil Woodruff has formally challenged WebEx to a “Taste Test” between the two rival products. Similar to the famous “Pepsi Challenge” which pitted the lesser known soda against the powerful Coke brand, Neil hopes to showcase his product’s industry leading features.

In a letter addressed to WebEx, Neil Woodruff asked for a product face off at a mutually agreed upon independent usability lab complete with full media and public access. “We are looking forward to going head-to-head with WebEx on a national stage. We are more than confident that VIA3’s rich web conferencing features will continue to be preferred over WebEx by independent users who try them both side by side. The higher quality audio, higher quality video, and richer set of features inside of VIA3 will quickly be evident.”

The recent usability lab test focused on a blend of 10 “Business Decision Makers”, “Productivity Application Power Users”, and “Productivity Application Novices”. The subjects were asked to weigh a number of factors, including Audio and Video quality, Presentation and Sharing Mode(s), Ease of Use, General Features, and more. 7 of the 10 subjects (70%) “preferred” or “strongly preferred” VIA3 over WebEx Meeting Center. 2 of the 7 subjects (20%) preferred or strongly preferred WebEx over VIA3. 1 of the 10 subjects (10%) was undecided.

In addition to positive press that the winning solution would receive following the web conferencing taste test, Neil is hoping to make it interesting. He has proposed that the entire executive team from the losing side wear clothing with the winning product’s logos and branding for one full month.

As of time of printing, WebEx has not accepted, nor commented on the VIA3 challenge.

One WebEx insider has separately noted that WebEx will likely avoid the taste test at all costs, to avoid exposing some competitive product deficiencies. Online presentations, for example, have been the long standing cash cow feature for WebEx, but even that is considered inferior by most reviewers. WebEx uses an import and convert process for PowerPoint slides, which can cause issues with complex features such as grouped images. These issues require a user work-around, or a simpler presentation which WebEx can handle. (This information is publicly available on the WebEx Knowledge Base, in articles like “WBX17724”). VIA3, by contrast, handles PowerPoint slides natively, in real time. The slide you present online is the actual slide, not a converted copy. These are exactly the type of product nuances that head to head competitions expose.

Want to decide for yourself in advance of the “taste test”? VIA3 from VIACK can be downloaded free for 30 days from WebEx can be downloaded free for 15 days from