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Slack's Addition of Video Should Improve Conferencing

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Slack's Addition of Video Should Improve Conferencing

December 21, 2016
By Frank Griffin
Contributing Writer

Slack has found a niche for itself in the workplace collaboration segment with 4 million users overall, with around 1.25 million of them paying for the service. These and other factors are responsible for the company having raised around $540 million, putting its current valuation at $3.8 billion. But if it wants to continue making gains in the workplace collaboration sector, it has to compete with the likes of Skype (News - Alert), Google hangouts and other platforms that have proven video communication and conferencing solutions. The company just announced it is adding video calling several months after it released the audio chat services earlier this year.

Although Slack's entry into audio and video calling might seem like it is a bit too late, the company has a user base that is already using the services it provides without these features. So the addition of audio and video capabilities will be seen as a bonus by its current users, and a way to attract new customers that might otherwise not have considered Slack because it lacked these features.

The new video capability is going to now let co-workers chat face-to-face for the first time within the platform as part of a group or individually. Slack members can initiate a video call with each other directly just like a phone call without the need to send links like other conferencing solutions.

For individuals that want a video call with a group, they have to be part of the paid service Slack offers. Paid (News - Alert) members can initiate group video calls with up to 15 individuals on a Mac or PC desktop. Currently, mobile users can only use audio-only conferencing calls. The video calls feature something different: sets of emojis with different actions to highlight the moment, such as a "thumbs up" to show approval and a "hand raise" to signal a pause for a question.

Slack is making it clear it is going after its competition in the video calling and collaboration segment, but it is still allowing third-party video conferencing integration such as Google (News - Alert) Hangouts and Zoom. And if you don't want to use Slack as the default platform, you can set these as your default within Slack.

It should also be noted that the company integrated with Skype earlier this year, even though it went after Microsoft (News - Alert) in a recent ad before it added its own video calling. According to TechCrunch, the moves might be designed to address the company's drop-off in growth and issues with retention. Only time will tell if this will stop the attrition rate while attracting new users.

Edited by Alicia Young

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