THE BOOM OF ZOOM: WILL IT SURVIVE PAST THE PANDEMIC?

With the pandemic forcing many of us to work from home and an increase of online video meetings, Zoom has become one of the largest conference platforms in the world.

In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the world to a grinding halt, many were left wondering how they would be able to force their work to adapt to the unprecedented times.

Zooms popularity grew quickly whilst people started to become more familiar with their new normal.

However, the pandemic alone is not the only reason that Zoom seems to have risen in favour more than the others.

The Okta 2020 business @ work report says, “Zoom was the number one fastest-growing video conferencing application in 2016, and it has not slowed down since.”

Additionally, in April 2019, Zoom began trading within the stock market. This was a rare occurrence for a relatively new public technology company due to it actually making a profit.

Once the pandemic had started making waves all over the globe, Zoom went from being a lesser-known software to the go-to in terms of home-schooling, university lecturing and business meetings.

With millions of people stuck in their homes, it was not just a software platform that people used for work only but to connect with family and friends whom they had not seen in so long.

To get an insight into how Zoom had impacted teaching during these unprecedented times, TUXtra reporter Alicia Cuthbertson interviewed university lecturer Paul Thompson on why, out of all the available platforms, he chose Zoom to teach on.

To watch the full interview see the video below:

Before 2020, on average Zoom had only 10 million daily participants whereas it now has over 200 million – double what their competitors had accumulated that same year.

It became the most downloaded Apple app on iPhones and iPads of 2020 – beating previous favourites such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube – culminating in the company’s revenue now being four times what it was the year before.

Yet now that the pandemic has seen the creation of multiple vaccines and the relaxation of various restrictions, what does that mean for Zoom?

Nearly two years on from the height of Zooms popularity, larger software companies such as Microsoft and Google have now finally caught up with the conference call technology.

These giant companies now offer the public exceedingly better products than they did before Zoom had risen in prominence.

Zoom now has to compete with budget-friendly conferencing software like Microsoft Teams, which is essentially free if the employers or companies pay for Microsoft Office 365.

The most concerning issue for Zoom – and companies that are similar to it – is that now that the vaccines are being rolled out across the country and the world, there may not be any use for Zoom next year.

In November 2020, Zooms stock had fallen by 20 percent due to the news of the high quality effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine when it was in its final stage of trials.

Despite the dip in their stock, Zoom is not worried about the vaccine roll out and instead they welcome it.

“Hopefully we provide a good enough service – and it is my true intention that we provide a good enough service – that people want to use us, calamity or not.”

Due to the vaccines potentially making it possible to start meeting with people in a face-to-face environment, many of the corporate users of Zoom – who are more than likely owners of the paid version of the app – will end up cancelling their subscriptions.

Due to Zooms largest revenue – 62 percent – coming from companies and corporations the loss of that could be detrimental to Zoom.

This becomes more apparent when the competitors of Zoom have an advantage due to their already existing customer base who are more than likely to stick with the provider that they know.

Many of the companies that were previously using Zoom are now spending less time on the app.

According to the ETR, chief information officers cite the leaving or spending less time on Zoom to Microsoft Teams.

Despite a potential loss of corporations, Zoom can still rely on their large quantity of their enterprise users and its popularity with small businesses and their owners.

Whilst that may not be as profitable as it would be with multiple big companies, these smaller customers are vital to the survival of Zooms future.

Now that the multi-million-pound companies have caught up to Zoom, it has become a battle to differentiate their platforms from the others.

With Microsoft and Cisco’s WebEx adding over 100 new features to their platforms – such as noise cancellation software – it is up to Zoom to add a new flare to their own software or face the possibility of becoming stagnant.

Now that these large software companies are keeping an extra close eye on the ever-changing videoconference platforms, it could be a challenge for Zoom to keep up.

However, their founder has suggested that to differentiate themselves from the others, they become the pinnacle of a more humanly communications network.

“We view ourselves as the conduit to providing human-to-human connection in any context in a very intimate and personal way.”

If Zoom can make this a reality then not only will they be able to reinvent themselves but it may also be the difference between continuing to be successful or being left behind as the world slowly heals from the pandemic.

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