From game night to work calls to funerals and weddings, the entire world has been forced to substitute videonetworking for in-person exchanges, and tech companies large and small are jockeying for a bigger piece of your screen time.
In terms of its stock performance, Zoom, the San Jose-based video chat company, is out to a big lead; shares have more than doubled in a 2020 that proved perilous for most market indices. However, a growing roster of global investment banks have begun directing staffers to other video services, citing privacy issues. Zoombombing, where unsolicited users hack their way into an unsuspecting feed to drop offensive or inappropriate content, has become a challenge to the company’s reputation. Bigger rivals sense the time is now to double-down on competing products.
In spite of privacy concerns, Zoom is drawing high ratings from users in the Google Play and Apple Store and scaling up staff in anticipation of further demand. Thinknum Alternative Data reflects headcount, tracked through its LinkedIn community rose nearly 20% this year. Job postings at Zoom sharply rose as the pandemic forced more people indoors, although hiring appears to have tapered off more recently.
The complaints and accusations being lobbed at Zoom aren’t unique to its chat platform – recently, cyber researchers identified a flaw in Microsoft Teams that exposed user accounts to hackers.
And data reflects Teams is Microsoft’s bet on its future place in telework, despite a very big deal to take over the top brand in the space nearly nine years ago.
Microsoft Teams’ apps are seeing downloads increase as more businesses nudge staffers onto a trusted tech platform’s service since March, where Apple Store Ratings (tracked above in our chart) rose about 84%.
Microsoft is one of the legacy tech companies that is dedicating its efforts to enterprise clients – and it doesn’t want S&P 500 leaders confusing its services for a product with a different brand, especially at a time when privacy and security are going at a premium. It’s apparent in how many people it is channeling to Skype for Business, which it advertises as being a product for 250 or less, compared to Teams’ capacity for 10,000. Skype for Business application, a separate platform, has only earned a few thousand new ratings in the Apple Store, compared to more than 200,000 new reviews for Teams – it looks as if there’s no Skype in Teams, at least for CEO Satya Nadella.
It’s impossible to ignore Zoom’s trajectory, or Teams’ triumph – especially if you’re Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook is launching Messenger Rooms, which can host up to 50 people, according to a Wall Street Journal report, and geared more toward social gatherings than professional networking. It isn’t Messenger’s first advance into Zoom’s social marketplace – Thinknum Alternative Data tracks its Messenger Kids app, which has seen a 15% rise in ratings submitted through the Google Play platform.
And, on the major app platforms, the Kids app boasts a rating higher than 4.2-out-of-5, signaling user satisfaction.
Plenty of legacy tech players are lunging for the business videoconferencing marketplace; Zuckerberg’s move to accommodate people in their recreational time may be an opportunity to build other key lines of the company’s business, as well.
As the likelihood grows that more Americans, in particular, will face staggered back-to-work schedules – particularly for office workers, who are among those most vulnerable to COVID-19 in enclosed environments – videonetworking has the potential to become a booming business for companies that can sell enterprise licenses. But user satisfaction, whether it’s for a publicly-listed business, or just margaritas with Mom, could wind up dictating market winners and losers. In terms of stock price and happy customers, Zoom is on top right now, with average ratings higher than 4.4 in both Google and Apple platforms.