There were many symbols of the first national lockdown last year – toilet roll bulk buying, painted rainbows in windows, hashtag challenges on social media.
But in the fullness of time, it will surely be Zoom that emerges as the most synonymous by-product of Covid-19. A silver lining in dark times.
The pandemic continues to create a critical need for video calling, from staying in touch with loved ones and friends with pizza parties and virtual quizzes, to virtual webinars and events to keep business going. Don’t forget the Sunday morning yoga too.
Lockdown’s success story
Zoom was arguably the most popular video calling tool of 2020, gobbling up a new, huge captive audience. It grew from 10 million daily users in December 2019 to over 300 million in April 2020.
The early adopters were joined by the masses. The niche technology went mainstream.
To put this in more statistical context: around 3 million took part in Zoom meetings in 2013. This became 100 million in 2015. Now consider this – there were 200 million per day in March 2020 – and we were pleased with our five-fold business growth in 2019!
How Zoom made it big
Zoom’s freemium model has played a key role in gaining its market leading position. It has followed in the footsteps of the likes of YouTube which supercharged its growth by peppering embeddable video player widgets across the web in the early 2000s.
Zoom is incredibly customer-focused – with a relentless drive to ensure its users are happy and feedback is implemented before moving on to gaining new customers. The platform sells itself and Zoom is no stranger to splurging on marketing like huge billboards in the USA.
Its engineering team also had 1,000 combined years of experience when Eric Yuan, one of the latest members of Silicon Valley’s billionaire club, founded Zoom in 2011.
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While we have been building Hyperfast full-fibre networks across East Anglia during the pandemic, having been granted key worker status to connect thousands, Zoom has been building new offices in the likes of London and Amsterdam in an unforeseen but very welcome connection to prime minister Boris Johnson’s ‘build build build’ infrastructure pledge.
It’s seemingly already knocked out Skype (remember them?) and has a strong platform to ensure its future despite behemoths Microsoft and Google entering the video calling arena. It also didn’t panic when the so-called ‘Zoom fatigue’ grabbed the headlines in summer 2020. It proved to be a fad.
Instead, it has continued to steadily improve its features, respond to rivals’ innovations, and play a crucial role in eroding ingrained employer scepticism over remote working. Some even got involved in ‘silent Zooms’ – working together virtually in total silence to help focus the mind. These were said to be lifelines for book clubs.
Zoom to the Future
Seasoned technology veteran Eric Yuan will be all too aware of allowing complacency to become Zoom’s downfall. The industry is notorious for first iterations imploding – allowing the second bird to catch the worm. Think: MySpace and Facebook, or Google Video and YouTube. The latter learnt from the mistakes of the former.
Concerns over security have shadowed the likes of Zoom and Microsoft Teams. It was announced in June 2020 that end-to-end encryption was to be rolled out to all Zoom customers including those with free accounts, allaying the public and stakeholders.
As we enter the third national lockdown of the Covid-19 pandemic, there remains a spotlight fixed on the issue of going back to the office (remember those too?).
The WFH (Working From Home) revolution has fired up productivity and improved work/life balances. Bosses know there is no turning back now. Even when the pandemic is over, WFH will be another silver lining. Historians will be confused as to why the overnight success story struggled for over a decade to become socially acceptable. Remote working is here to stay, and so therefore is Zoom.
So along with loo roll and the British sense of keeping calm and carrying on, Zoom has become an essential commodity. We don’t think our love affair will end any time Zoom.