Did Prezi just ruin content creation tools for everyone?
We’ve always been big fans of Prezi. Not just as a presentation tool but as a proper content marketing medium in its own right.
Like Slideshare but swoopier.
We love the zoomable user interface, the smooth transitions and the ability to include all sorts of rich media.
We love that it’s embeddable.
And we love that it’s not Powerpoint.
But I can’t show you those.
Because Prezi has ‘upgraded’ their player and announced that they’re withdrawing support for the old player — rendering much of our past work useless (no support for swf animations being the worst news).
That’s work that our clients have paid to produce, publish and promote. (The Prezis are posted in their accounts not ours).
And I’m really upset about it. As are others who have invested their time, money, effort and reputations in Prezi. (The post and thread about their new player is here. CTO Peter Halacsy’s tech explanation of the move is here.).
But to sunset the old player with so little warning is very, very hard to take. It may not affect every Prezi out there — the ones with little animation or flash trickery may port over well enough. But anyone who pushed the medium a bit; who wanted to see what it could do; who wanted to make stand-out work; are in trouble.
Maybe Prezi just hasn’t found a way to make enough money to support two platforms. I get that too. The team seems to care about customers and clearly works very hard to make the best product they can. I don’t want to give them undue abuse.
But we’ve still been been burned badly.
Here’s why this is way bigger than one pissed-off agency and one content creation tool:
At Velocity, we’re always looking for new ways to tell stories.
So we’re always checking out new tools, services and platforms to create new kinds of content. We meet with the founders, test-drive the tools and share our experiences. (The latest Test Drive of BrightInfo is here).
Like Prezi, the vast majority of these new content creation or distribution tools are cloud-based.
And whenever we consider one, we ask, “What happens if we invest time and energy creating things with this and the vendor makes a fundamental change or goes out of business or makes decisions that hurt our assets?”
That’s the question that hangs over hundreds of vendors – like pretty much all 200 of the ones listed in our Humongous List of Content Marketing Tools.
We usually manage to tiptoe past this elephant in the room with some skillful rationalisation. Maybe we ask the vendor if we can host the content ourselves. Or ask about an agreement giving us ownership of the content even if we stop subscribing to the service.
But in reality, we know that using any cloud service to create and host new content – whether it’s a curation tool, animation platform, e-learning system, audio sharing community, or document maker – is a real risk.
And now that we’ve been bitten, the risk seems far greater.
Prediction: Cloud software vendors will need to come up with some serious guarantees to protect users. Old-school software escrow isn’t the answer – enterprise users will demand to see a properly financed backup plan with SLAs and contracts to back it up.
In the mean time, here’s a rhetorical question: will we think twice before committing resources to any new cloud-based content creation platform?
You bet your ass we will.
We want to own our content assets not rent them.
We want to control how they’re presented, where they live and when they die.
And you should too.
(Sorry, Prezi. All current prezi projects are on hold indefinitely. Shame.)