As work from home became the norm in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak last year, online meetings, administrative or otherwise, became routine. Nobody could have imagined that friendly chats using digital tools would turn into sober boardroom conferences or online classes with the help of video meeting apps like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet.
The use of online video conferencing apps has skyrocketed over the past year.
Here’s a look at how meeting apps have been helping people stay connected in the age of lockdowns.
Google MeetGoogle’s video conferencing app Meet was specifically designed with business needs in mind as an easy-to-use interface that can handle up to 250 people in an online meeting, depending on the Workspace subscription.The interface is fully integrated with other Google Workspace apps, like Google Calendar, that allow people to create and drop in and out of meetings quickly by just clicking a link.Google on March 3, 2020 announced that the enterprise functionalities of Meet were temporarily available to all Workspace, G Suite customers. Following this, all Google Workspace and Google Workspace for Education customers got their hosting cap raised to up to 250 participants per call and were able to record and live stream their video meetings. Also, there was no limit on the call duration.Meetings can be recorded with just two clicks. The captured audio, video, chat and screen sharing activity are automatically saved to Google Drive. If the video meeting is created via Google Calendar, the recording will also be accessible through the Calendar entry.According to G Cloud, Google Meet is more secure than Zoom. Here messages are encrypted “in transit” that is between the user device and Google’s servers.
As of May 2020, Meet’s peak daily usage had grown by 30 times since January, according to Google.
ZoomOne of the most used online video conferencing tools is Zoom, due to its easy-to-use functionality and good video and audio quality. Zoom allows a maximum of 100 participants, including the host, per meeting free of charge, but one can purchase the "large meeting" add-on to host up to 500 participants.With Zoom’s free plan, unlimited calls, each up to 40-minute duration, can be made.With its pro account or paid plans, the limit moves up to 24-hour duration. With Zoom, meetings can be recorded, but saved to the local computer only.Zoom video conferencing app, which was founded in 2011 by Eric Yuan and launched in January 2013, gathered considerable popularity and became profitable in the following years. But it truly entered the public consciousness during the coronavirus pandemic, with users under lockdown across the world turning to the app to stay in touch with others.The company went public in April 2019 with a valuation of close to $16 billion. Stocks, initially priced at $36, traded at $65 on the first day of going public. According to the Business of Apps website, it saw a 30-fold rise in just the first six months of 2020.Yuan stated in a blog post that over May 2020, Zoom was seeing 200 million daily meeting participants. The figure had risen to 300 million in a month by June as compared to just 10 million users in December 2019. Among the new participants, were the UK Cabinet and 90,000 schools in 20 countries.Zoom generated $2.6 billion revenue in 2020, a 317 percent year-on-year rise, with meeting participants soaring by 2,900 percent.As of December 2020, it had 4,70,000 business customers. Zoom’s valuation exceeded $100 billion during the pandemic, a 383 percent rise from January 2020. Last year, Zoom’s annual revenue was $2.6 billion and profit $671 million.
Microsoft TeamsTeams is part of Microsoft Office 365 bundle. There are both free and paid plans that allow a Microsoft customer to host meetings with up to 250 attendees and record them as well. Teams doesn't have any duration limitation for meetings.Microsoft Teams too encrypts data “in transit." They store it in a secure network of data centres and use Secure Real-time Transport Protocol for video, audio and desktop sharing.Among other functionalities, there are provisions of screen sharing, integration with company apps, dial-in facility with phone, grid view, and captions using speech-to text technology in these video conferencing tools.
Microsoft Teams saw an approximately four times rise in just five months -- from 20 million in November 2019 to 44 million in March 2020 and 75 million in April.According to digital experience management company Aternity, as published in Business of Apps, Microsoft Teams usage growth surpassed Zoom from February to June last year. From March to June 2020, Microsoft Teams notched a 894 percent growth. It added 95 million users in 2020. It currently has 145 million daily active users, including over 500,000 organisations, compared to 75 million last year.According to Business of Apps, Microsoft Teams, along with Microsoft 365 and Dynamics, generated $6.8 billion in revenue in 2020, a 700 percent increase year-on-year.