Anyone who's had to sit through one too many drab PowerPoint presentations will likely cheer BizPresenter, the latest online service from digital content delivery firm Corbis. Debuting next week, the Web-based service gives users quick access to photos, illustrations, cartoons, and other images that they can download and use in presentations, slide shows, and on Web sites.
Corbis sees the product as ideal for people who put together their own presentations, says BizPresenter product manager Jerry Weber. Pull-down menus at the BizPresenter.com Web site help you search for images by categories (such as photos, illustrations, and cartoons) and subjects (such as business, biotech, and sports among others). All told, BizPresenter customers will be able to choose from 5,000 images, with plans to add more in future months.
In addition to just images, users also can buy templates -- three different slides of an image that can be customized for a specific presentation.
How user-friendly is Corbis trying to make BizPresenter? The thumbnail pages are designed to weigh in at 30K to 50K so that they load quickly, says BizPresenter managing director Art Muldoon. That's ideal for business travelers frantically trying to piece together presentations from their hotel room the night before the big meeting.
Besides providing users with images, BizPresenter also offers advice. Online tutorials will walk people through downloading and importing images to PowerPoint. FAQs will give pointers on how to effectively use media in presentations.
"This hits people who are constrained by time, budget, or lack of expertise," Weber said.
Pricing will be on a per-image basis, with costs ranging from around $8 for illustrations and photos to $25 for cartoons. Templates will cost about $20. Personal BizPresenter accounts will store downloaded images for up to a year, even after users scrub the material off their own hard drives.
Corbis expects to launch the BizPresenter.com Web site by September 6. To familiarize people with the service, Corbis will let users download five free pieces of content during September, Weber says.
In other business software and services news from Seybold:
MetaCommunications updated its Job Manager and Virtual Ticket software for graphics art businesses. The new versions of each product will be available in October.
Job Manager 3.0 adds an estimating feature to the job tracking, costing, and billing application. Users can create estimates for clients and convert quoted estimates into live jobs. The upgrade also lets users create customized reports.
A five-user license for Job Manager starts at $3,000. Upgrades from version 2.2 cost $99 per user, with free upgrades for anyone who bought Job Manager after June 1.
The update to Virtual Ticket adds AppleScript support to the electronic job ticketing and digital asset management software. Virtual Ticket 3.0 also includes a background processing feature that lets users drag and drop digital assets onto the server to free up their workstation.
A five-user license sells for $3,500. Version 2.2 users can upgrade for $199 per user, with free upgrades to anyone who bought Virtual Ticket after June 1.
MetaCommunications also announced a new product, InUnity 1.0. The XML-based communications server lets graphic arts companies exchange print procurement and content data. InUnity ships in December. Pricing hasn't been set.
WebEx, the online meeting host best known for featuring RuPaul in its commercials, unveiled a cross-platform collaborative meeting service. Mac users can now collaborate with other meeting participants in applications, even if those people are using Windows or Solaris operating systems.
The new WebEx service supports native operating systems instead of requiring the use of a Java client. That means Mac users get the same interactivity through WebEx that Windows customers have long enjoyed.
The service will be available through WebEx.com in a few weeks. Pricing plans vary depending upon use.
SNX announced an upgrade to its flagship bar-code graphics software, Bar Code Pro. Version 4.0 lets users add URLs to bar-code graphics, adds a text field for additional font styles and sizes, and offers compatibility with the latest versions of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, PostScript, and PageMaker, as well as QuarkXPress and FreeHand.
BarCode Pro 4.0 sells for $200, with the Veribar version selling for $325. The software ships in late September.