SlideShare remains one of the most popular networks for uploading, sharing, and embedding presentation files. But for the longest time, it’s had one unresolved enhancement request sitting on the waiting list: accepting native Apple Keynote files. Now, SlideShare has announced that the wait is over. Users can now upload Keynote files directly to the service.
Is a new upload format terribly newsworthy? Not exactly. But there are a couple of interesting tangents to this news that make it worth a mention.
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First, this announcement hints at the makeup of the SlideShare user base. I would have assumed that the bulk of people using the service were Microsoft PowerPoint types, but that might have been an incorrect assumption. SlideShare says that native Keynote uploads have been one of the “most requested features from our users.” Or perhaps it’s just that PowerPoint users are either completely satisfied with the service or unwilling to share their presentations publicly?
Second, this leads me to question whether PowerPoint remains the unassailable presentation format it was always assumed to be. Could it be that the rise of Keynote, Google Docs Presentations, OpenOffice, Adobe Acrobat PDF and other presentation formats are beginning to put dents in the Microsoft’s install base? Or do Keynote users just have more aesthetically pleasing presentations which they want to share?
Third (and honestly the most interesting point), by enabling native Keynote uploads, SlideShare will finally give us a glimpse into the metrics that can answer all of these questions. Remember when Flickr launched its Camera Finder, using the metadata from photos to give us a view into the models of cameras that Flickr uploaders were using? It doesn’t take a huge intuitive leap to see SlideShare pursuing a similar offering.
To date, Keynote users who wanted to share their presentations via SlideShare have been forced to upload presentations as PDFs. That has made it difficult to tell who is using what software to develop their presentations – beyond visual clues. With the native Keynote upload, however, SlideShare will begin capturing real PowerPoint vs. Keynote metrics. And that may illuminate some very interesting trends – as well as answers to some of the questions above.
Do people really care what presentation software people use? Maybe not. But they care what Web browsers, operating systems, applications, and mobile handsets people use. And soon, SlideShare could be providing us with yet another data point that helps round out our understanding of actual user metrics – as opposed to just assumptions. Without a doubt, that information is going to be valuable to someone.