As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Skype and GoToMeeting (Citrix) are banding together to try and shore up each other’s weaknesses as collaborative business tools. The former has begun asking $9 a month for group calling but has a limited screenshare and no collaborative tools; the latter charges even more but without a good video solution.
So it makes sense.
BUT, this won’t happen till the end of the year or possibly into next year. Which also means it may not happen at all. While Skype, in the meantime, will have a chance to increase it’s perceived value for its upcoming IPO.
That’s not to say it won’t happen. Or that it will or will not be competitive as a solution to VSee, WebEx, or others for the enterprise space. Truth be told, I’m actually rooting for them to get the user experience correct (I explain why below). I’m guessing that public supernodes (and mega-supernodes) and unpublished encryption are still likely showstoppers for many businesses. And the manner of collaborative tools for GoToMeeting are still more appropriate to presentations than collaborative workflow, thereby more “videoconferencing” than “video collaboration.” That said, if true, it is a significant step in the right direction. There are still several variables that the world will have to wait for:
What will the interface look like?
What will the work flow be?
How much will it cost?
Interface: If Skype and GoToMeeting add too many new buttons or menus to their respective UIs to activate functionality from the other’s product, it could be off-putting to the current user base or, worse yet, turn them off to collaborative work outright as “overly complicated.” So, Skype and Citrix design engineers, please be careful!
Work flow: The value of this combo, especially as so many users of GoToMeeting already often use Skype simultaneously, needs to come from the improved work flow. (In my perfect world, they would just use VSee instead. Back to the current topic…) Again, I hope the designers carefully map out the most elegant and simple path from initiating a meeting/call to working on documents together.
Quick aside-> The reason to root for Skype and Citrix to do this correctly? Because the massive impact of their brands means that earlier adoption of video collaboration may well rest on them. If the general public’s first introduction to a vid collab tool is through the Skype/GTM hybrid and the solution is half-baked, it may take years to convince that public to look at video collaboration again, much less other tools such as ours.
Cost: Right now, I don’t believe that Skype’s monthly fee for group calling is worth it. For one more dollar a month you can have a VSee Team license or the ViVu VuRoom add-on for Skype itself. This, in addition to the security stuff (see above), is an area I hope they still miss. Given that GoToMeeting has a much higher cost point ($49/mo, or in line with VSee’s Pro license!), I’m sure that the cost of the Skype service will increase, but who knows by how much?
For now, we’ll just have to wait and see. And, while you’re waiting, you may as well start a VSee trial…