Any time I hear a company reference their product as a "YouTube for _____," I cringe a little. Newcomer iCharts said the same thing about its charts product at its presentation at the TechCrunch50 conference this morning. The service takes your data from spreadsheets and turns it into charts that are both hosted on the site and can be embedded elsewhere, including things like PowerPoints, message boards, and PDFs.
What makes iCharts less worthy of the YouTube cringe is that it's a solid business model. As billionaire panelist Mark Cuban pointed out, you can leverage out this technology to other companies that want to make their charts suck less, making a quick buck as a service provider instead of ending up as a destination site for orphaned sales charts.
The service has a few tricks up its sleeve, including a building tool that lets you drag and drop data sets from a centralized document list. You can add as many sets as you want as long as the X & Y data axis match up. This comes with a live preview of what your charts will look like on the site, letting you see how it looks before hitting the publish button.
Also included is search engine optimization and the option to leave short audio annotations that can be attached to each chart. These clips follow it along wherever it goes, even on PowerPoint presentations, which means you can put together a pretty slick presentation that plays itself without using any other sort of narration software.
The service is launching later today with the tools to upload and build, along with a portal that shows off user charts that have been set as public.