The Problem with Prezi

Prezi Upgrade

Update 24/1: Prezi today announced an educational licensing package – and a well priced one at that (Prezi blog post). Kudos to Prezi for both listening and responding to their end-users.

Update 7/1/10: Please don’t send Prezi any more emails! Read the comments for more details.

Original post:

I’ve run into a little problem with using Prezi of late – and it doesn’t just relate to Prezi, but to a number of online tools.

The problem centres around licensing tools for individuals, at a set monthly or annual rate. Now while this would be fine if it was a personal subscription, or even if it was for a team of people in an office to share the account. It is, however, frustratingly difficult for teachers.

I’d quite like my students to be able to create accounts, make as many Prezis as they want and not have to pay $159 per student per year(!). I had a similar problem with Waybe(1), a plugin for Google Sketchup that lets you create 2D nets of 3D models that can then be printed. Because the idea is to install it one machine in an office, the pricing is pretty steep. To install it across the site we were quoted over £20k. Per year. And that’s with a bulk and educational discount.

I’m not suggesting that we should get these tools for free because we’re educators (although when people such as the team at Animoto and Glogster do offer that then I’m not going to complain!), but a sensible pricing policy that reflects the different needs of a school environment makes it much more likely that I’ll be able (let alone willing) to stump up the cash.

A particular problem with Prezi is that we are unable to upload any content from within school. Apparently this is to do with the flash uploader and the proxy server not getting along and I’m told that it can’t be helped. Thankfully I was able to use PreziDesktop with the free account – but alas no more. Now I need the full pro account. And if we want to let all of the students (1500) use it then that’ll be $238,500 or £150,000. Per year. And this problem is only set to increase as we make use of more and more online tools and technologies.

The solution? Well I intend to contact Prezi and put forward the case of the educator. I’m going to ask that they make a 4th type of account – an educational account. One that we might be charged a reasonable fee for. One that would allow us to use Prezi Desktop on multiple machines. One that would allow us to either create multiple (unlimited?) accounts – perhaps with a fair use policy. Or failing that, have them set up a number of accounts that we can ‘lend’ to students rather than them having an account each – or having to share one account between them.

What do you think? Is this a reasonable proposal? Are there any key features I need to include? If I/we knock up a standard email can we get a number of us to send it?

(1)Waybe did later offer me 2x 12 month trial licenses, but you really need the software installed when building your model in order to continually check that it ‘works’ as a 2D net – and I’m still not prepared to pay £20k.

Update 7/1/10: I added an email I had written to Prezi’s CEO and asked people to send a copy themselves to make sure Prezi realise how serious we are. The response was overwhelming and Prezi responded within a number of hours.

Here is a copy of the email I sent – but please DO NOT send any more copies as Prezi are well aware of the situation now. And a massive, massive thank you, both to all those who emailed Prezi and to Prezi themselves for responding both quickly and positively.

Dear Peter,

As an educator, Prezi is a really powerful tool and a great way to create exciting presentations. I also appreciate that there is a free, basic account that will let me create presentations without having to worry about the cost.

One problem I (and a number of other teachers) do have, however, is that due to proxy server issues I am not able to upload any content – a problem that was easily solved using the Prezi Desktop application. Since you have now limited this to just pro account users this means that in order to allow all of the staff and students at my school to make use of Prezi I would have to purchase 1600+ pro accounts, at a cost of over $250,000 per year or alternatively force users to share accounts which would lead to huge logistical problems.

While your licensing system seems fine for private or corporate users, it is not viable for educators who will have a large number of potential users who would provide relatively little load overall. My proposal is that you allow educational users to make use of the full pro account in the same way that Animoto offers free ‘all-access pass’ accounts.

This would surely create very little extra overhead as the desktop application is already written and the educational accounts would almost certainly not lead to any significant bandwidth or storage requirements over and above the equivalent number of free basic accounts. You would also be gaining a lot of users – users who will not be students forever and may well want to continue using the service once their educational accounts have come to an end.

I look forward to hearing from you.


21 thoughts on “The Problem with Prezi

  1. I think this is one of the reasons why VLEs still have a significant role in schools – Whilst there are a host of excellent web 2.0 resources out there they are all little individual islands with their own licensing deals, which makes putting together a tool set for a school very difficult…

  2. Fully agree with you there. Have used Prezi for staff meetings and assemblies etc. When other staff/pupils want to use it, it causes loads of issues. Definately need an education price list and an easy way to pay…getting hold of the school credit card is a nightmare 🙂

  3. I would hope that Prezi would be at least open to discussion. Surely the fact that teachers want to use it with students would mean they would receive excellent publicity and be tapping into a huge number of potential full-fee payers in future years?!

  4. There is actually a lot of commercial sense in companies offering free or very cheap licensing for education. All those young people learning to use the tools in school are prospective customers when they leave school and move on. We need companies like Prezi to acknowledge the free advertising that you are giving them.

  5. Hi Mark
    I don’t fre educational accounts is not unreasonable either.
    You will teaching a load of new user in how to use the companies products. You are spreading the word in their future customer base.
    This should not underestimated in its value to a company

  6. You’ve identified an issue with the use of Prezi from the type of networks many of their prospective customers will be using (that of a private network segment connected via a proxy server to the public internet).

    I’d expect Prezi to be very interested in fixing that, as it’s a barrier to uptake. They’re unlikely to have written their own Flash uploader, but will have chosen a solution which they thought best met their needs.

    It might be an insurmountable problem from your end, but this is all the more reason for letting Prezi know. There will be other design options out there, and the sooner they’re aware of these problems the better for everyone.

    Good luck!

  7. It’s unusual to find a company that haven’t directly considered the education market, especially when they are selling presentation software and schools have many presentations going on each day. They would probably be interested to talk to educators who are interested in using their services but are excluded due to cost. Tools, in the main, must be site-licencable – particularly eye-catching and inspiring ones like prezi. If the school has to pay a set fee per year for any user of a certain domain email address to create an account then prezi would benefit from the revenue. If Prezi are successful enough as a company they might consider free provision to build their userbase. Todays pupils are tomorrows Prezi customers, subject to the shelf-life of the product.

    This is part of a wider concern about how to make money from web services. I wonder what a fair fee would be for site licence of one online tool. £100? £250? £0? Prezi have no ads – which is nice. Maybe these things will become a bit like scanners at school – certain machines only.

  8. I’m unhappy the way prezi handles images. Last year I paid for a pro account thinking it would be more reliable with the option to create offline. The recommendation by prezi is to convert images to pdf – the pro version doesn’t support this feature. At the end of my 3mth subscription I decided to return to the free version. It was a disappointment to discover that all the presentations I’d stored online at Prezi were deleted. As far as I can see there was no benefit for me as an individual to have a pro account. Can’t say I’m that impressed with it overall.

  9. The good news is that Prezi will be releasing their education license in the next month or so…as well as a whole bunch of new features and tweaks that will make Prezi even more amazing.

    At TEDxBKK – Zoltan Radnai will be announcing some major changes/upgrades/features of Prezi and also the education license.

    Stay tuned…it’s all coming.

  10. Hi,

    thanks for your interest in Prezi! Yes, we did receive the message. We are all amazed by how effective Prezi proves to be in education, and how fast teachers globally picked up our tool and started to use in classrooms. Since our mission is to encourage knowledge sharing and help people visualize their thoughts better, education is one of the most important fields of our interest.
    Please keep in touch, as Rob has mentioned we’ll have interesting news for you soon.

    Best Regards,

  11. Hi Guys,
    Thanks for reaching out to us. I know, I should have taken it as criticism of current pricing plan, but I am still really happy that you all care about getting a Prezi edu license.

    We have been considering how to provide an edu-license for some time now because we understand that schools have constrained budgets (as do we btw).

    We’ll be launching an edu offer this month and hope that this will work out for you guys. Meanwhile please get in touch with and, they would love to hear your feedback and try to understand the issues you’re facing.


  12. First of all, thank you for responding. The flood of responses through the blog and through Twitter was far greater than I had anticipated, and I went to bed last night feeling quite guilty at the flood of emails I appeared to have triggered.

    Secondly, my aim was absolutely not to criticise, but to highlight the problem and to try and find a workable solution.

    Finally, I look forward eagerly to see how things progress and really hope to both continue using Prezi personally (I must admit I half expected to find my account broken today :p) and to be able to start using it in the classroom regularly.

  13. Unfortunately the current economic climate in HEIs will mean that the people in charge of the cash will not see the benefit of something like Prezi.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like and use it, and have shared the love around (and it has been well received). It’s just that the people who pay for this stuff do not understand, or care, about innovation when it is going to cost them something.

    All the best.

  14. Dear simfin,

    returning to the free version, do not make your online prezis dissappear. If you, however, found so then please contact me at peter dot vajda at prezi com. Thanks for the interest in prezi.

  15. Have you heard the news?!?? Prezi released its free Education License on Monday, which makes Prezi Enjoy available for free (yes, FREE) to users with a school email address. And, get Prezi Pro with the Prezi Desktop at a special educational discount.

    We hope you sign up for an education account and have fun using Prezi. We are thrilled about the release of this license, as we thoroughly support the use of technology and new tools in education.

    Happy Zooming!

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