The novel coronavirus has forced people to stay at home and practice social distancing. While many businesses are hurt during the pandemic, Zoom's smile is never wider.
Zoom has been around since 2011. While it did reached the $1 billion valuation in 2017, making it a "unicorn" company, Zoom only had 10 million daily active users in late 2019.
Thanks to the coronavirus, that number jumped to an insane 200 million in just three months.
This rise in popularity surprised everyone in the group calling business.
Displeased, Facebook promptly rolled out Messenger Rooms. The social giant has even increased group call capacity on WhatsApp from 4 to 8. Google has also improved both Meet and Duo, just to compete with this 'junior'.
And this time, Microsoft is next.
Caught by surprise like others, Microsoft identifies Zoom as an “emerging threat.”
Skype which is 8 years older than Zoom, failed to keep its position in the video calling market it once dominated. As a result, the telecommunications app opened the door for a whole array of competitors to enter.
While Skype does benefit from the coronavirus pandemic, as usage increased to 40 million daily users (up from 23 million previously), it has yet to have enough to counter the almighty Zoom’s popularity.
But it isn't Microsoft if it gives in to defeat. But instead of tweaking and marketing Skype, the company instead shifted its focus to improve its Teams product.
Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans said that the company has been reassigning its engineers to quickly roll out features in Teams that it had been planning for later this 2020.
To make that happen, Microsoft is using the data is has been gathering from people using Teams for remote working. Microsoft then finalized the introduction of features, like custom backgrounds, which mimics Zoom's popular virtual backgrounds.
Microsoft also announced its plans to add even more features, including the virtual raise of users' hand for attention, allowing people to connect in a group chat or through video calls, options to share to-do lists, photos, and other content in a single location.
Microsoft is also getting ready to make Teams available for consumes this summer, as part of the company's broader push to widen Microsoft 365 reach and users.
In the meantime, Teams usage has jumped 70% to 75 million daily active users, that according to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
This also involves Microsoft tweaking Teams to make it friendly for groups of friends or families.
Also like Facebook, WhatsApp and Google, Microsoft also wants to increase the number of participants who can be viewed simultaneously.
At this time, Zoom supports 50 simultaneous video streams to be displayed at once.
Facebook, Google and Microsoft aren’t the only competitors looking to respond to Zoom. Because Zoom's massive surge in popularity essentially disrupted the competition, it sent shockwave enough to capture the attention rivals that were usually quiet.
Cisco for example, has turned to highlight some of Zoom's security issues and messes, as a strategy to divert attention. Cisco, which operates the popular Webex web conferencing service, has been encouraging employees and partners to ask questions about Zoom’s security and privacy flaws.
The document even encourages Cisco partners to not fall into Zoom's hype, and includes some points about how Cisco Webex employees and partners can respond to Zoom’s increase in market share.
Cisco even openly questions “what did they [Zoom] do with the data they already sold?”