How come?

Tweet from Adobe Connect Pro team -

Out of context the question “how come?” may sound innocuous. That’s why I’m replying on my blog to the question from Adobe’s Connect Pro team, not via Twitter. I’m adding some much needed context, something Twitter posts are invariably oblivious to, so my reply exceeds 140 characters.

Where to begin?

Last week I fired off a bon mot tweet bemoaning the difficulties of accessing Adobe’s web conferencing software in New Zealand. After a month of searching and a second evaluation of the product Michael and I decided it was the best of the web conferencing tools available (see my earlier post “Does the tool really do the job?”). Videos play clear and crisp, the interface is relatively intuitive, and video input from an external source has been thought through. These are areas the other products we looked at fell down.

As we’re just running a one-off event (at this stage), the pricing advertised on Adobe’s Asia Pacific website is very attractive: $55 for a month’s access allowing 100 simultaneous participants. Whether it is US, Euro or Australian, this price represents good value for the quality of the product. Though I’d have to say this price is unaffordable to most grassroots community groups I work with.

Unfortunately, at the moment casual month-by-month access is not offered directly by Adobe to customers in Aotearoa. This isn’t stated anywhere I could find on their website, but is something I only confirmed after a call to the customer support line.

Buying the software outright is not an option, as the costs of running a server with system administration support and license fees is prohibitive. Especially for a one off event.

The one Australasian supplier I found gave some excellent advice, but quoted several thousand dollars to use their system when I asked for a price for our one-off event. Bemused is the most polite word I can think of to describe my reaction.

At this point I tweeted: “Adobe customer service excellent – the answer not so rosy: no easy way to get Connect Pro in NZ. Drats!” The glass half empty perspective is well founded as I was told by Carla from the customer support team that “We are still in the process of widening the horizon of our service to reach out to as many customers as we can. Please feel free to check our website for latest updates and so that you may be guided accordingly.”

I hope this answers “how come?”, with some context thrown in, but without a wider, excoriating rant about the sins of capitalism and proprietary software.

As I want to end on a high note, I can report the earth has rotated a few times since my tweet and I’ve found an organisation that can help out with our online launch requirements in a spirit of public goodness. I expect a few more ups and downs, but it looks like everything will work out.