Can Zoom Expand Beyond Video?
When future generations study the pandemic of 2020 in history class, it is entirely fathomable that a whole topic will be dedicated to Zoom. The now-ubiquitous provider of videoconferencing tools has become almost synonymous with the global pandemic and, while it experienced success prior to the spread of COVID19 and the shift to homeworking, it was this event that sparked an explosion in its usage. Suddenly it seemed no longer confined to high-flying businesses and the tech savvy but to the lay man just trying to get a day’s work done.
The platform is now the go-to for videoconferencing and, as of April 2020, it surpassed 300 million daily Zoom meeting participants. In the second quarter of 2020 Zoom, alongside Pokémon GO and TikTok, became the only apps to be installed over 300 million times in a single quarter.
With such rapid success, attributable to a (hopefully) temporary event, it is certainly plausible that once the pandemic is over and people return to traditional working, the aggressive demand for video conferencing may be dampened. That said, taking into account the now well-documented benefits of remote working, it is clear to see that we have experienced a shift in how we work, for good.
Either way, it seems smart for Zoom to consider rounding out their offering to better compete with other collaboration tools. The biggest players being Microsoft and Google. According to a report from The Information, the company has begun developing a web email service and is considering building a calendar application. While these remain rumours at this stage, if we consider how the three tools (videoconferencing, email and calendar) work in tandem, the package appears at least to be logical. Meeting links are sent via email and future meetings are added to calendars, creating a cyclical motion eased by collaboration. Creating this kind of cohesion enables more effective communication making for greater efficiency and productivity – business 101.
The quest is certainly noble but not without its challenges. The scope of its rivals will be hard for Zoom to compete with. Gmail and Outlook are household names in email with colossal user bases and sound integration with other services. Much like Zoom has become the preferred mode of videoconferencing, Gmail and Outlook are ingrained as the go-to email servers but, notably, Zoom has less experience with email than Google and Microsoft do with video calling.
The next 6-12 months will be pivotal in determining how our working lives are set to evolve as vaccinations continue to roll out and rates of transmission slow down. Questions around the role of remote working and video communications will attract further clarity and Zoom will have to find its place in whatever the “new normal” is. Whether they are able to successfully expand outside of video and compete with others in the industry remains to be seen but given how rapidly they came to prominence in videoconferencing their potential transition into other communications will, if nothing else, garner close attention.