Many conference calls in the corporate world start with lots of beeping and questions. “Did someone just join?” “Hello?” “Who just came on?” Occasionally you also get the stray person from another corporate department that joins by accident. All of this non-core communication to get to the actual call is wasteful and kills productivity. Of course it gives the people on the call extra time to update their Facebook profiles and check out the day’s news but most companies likely are looking to reduce this time-wasting taken for granted as part of the typical conference.
Enter UberConference – the company was founded and led by Craig Walker, the visionary who was behind Dialpad which became Yahoo! Voice and GrandCentral which became Google Voice.
In a conversation at ITEXPO West Las Vegas 2013 Walker explained how screen-sharing and video have improved while audio has not. To paraphrase Seinfeld when he went to pick up a car at the airport which wasn’t there, “But the reservation keeps the car here…” “That’s why you have the reservation.” Agent at rental car counter, “I know why we have reservations.” Seinfeld, “I don’t think you do.”
Yada yada yada
Seinfeld: “You know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to “h-o-l-d” the reservation. And that’s really the most important part of the reservation.”
Point being, audio is the most important part of the conference call but still, it hasn’t improved. It really is the most important part of the conference call.
This is where his company comes in – its goal is to make audio calling much better. The service lets you see who has joined a conference call based on their Caller ID. Moreover they can see the associated social profiles of the user such as their tweets and more. You can visually see who is speaking and share documents with popular cloud services and even use WebRTC.
At ITEXPO they announced support for HD voice using the OPUS codec which Craig explains was a benefit of the GIPS acquisition. by Google He explained how good this codec is during high and low-bandwidth connections.
He went on to discuss how UberConference works with Google’s Packaged Apps – using the Chrome runtime – meaning the user sees a native app which can alert you of incoming messages and more. It will work with Windows first and then Mac.
There is a free version of UberConference and for $10 a month you can get a Pro Account which allows you to increase the limit of a call from ten to one-hundred users. In addition, the paid version removes the branding and allows you to get local numbers and call people at a certain time to remove the need to enter pins. Finally, you can record calls, get custom hold music, a toll free number and 50 international numbers to dial into.
Craig’s take on Google Voice was interesting – I asked him about it since there are rumors Google will kill it like it did Reader. Although he says he has no inside information, he believes it will live in Google Hangouts as part of the Babel UC service.
He finished by saying the goals of the company are to have disruptive pricing and great design. One customer he says is already saving half-a-million dollars a year using his company’s service.
It seems this serial entrepreneur/disrupter has no plans of slowing down and will continue to push the communications market forward for the foreseeable future.