Really! Zoom Meeting Beat everyone?
Challenge with zoom meeting
Google has made its premium video conferencing service, Google Meet, free for all. At the beginning of April, Microsoft’s Skype introduced a feature that allowed users to jump into a call by clicking on a single connection. Both companies seem to be playing catch-up to the newly successful Zoom Meeting, even though they’re dominant tech mega-corporations that have been selling rival goods for the better part of a decade.
Since the very beginning, Microsoft and Google have taken a different approach to video chat than Zoom Meeting. Zoom Meeting launched in 2011 as a single-feature device based primarily on video chat. Meanwhile, tech giants introduced community video chat as a feature connected to other services such as Skype’s voice calling platform or Google’s doomed social network, Google+. Users had to log in to Google+ to chat on Hangouts. To get in on a 10-way video call, users had to load a bulky Skype mobile app. It was a small burden at the time, but it put both companies at a competitive disadvantage in the long run.
Although the video chat apps themselves performed well, the services they were connected to fail. Skype was unable to gain a foothold as a general-purpose messaging network as smartphones allowed new apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and iMessage to join the market. Such applications provided enhancements to SMS-based messaging, drawing millions of users to their respective platforms.
Instead, in 2013, Facebook announced that it would give free voice calls to all of its iOS users in the United States. This was a silent but devastating blow to Skype. Although the latter was widely seen at the time as one of the best cross-platform voice and video chat applications, Facebook snuck Skype’s core product into a messaging network with hundreds of millions of users who didn’t necessarily need voice contact. It was no longer enough to provide a form of communication feature. The popular model in those days, and the scale on which Google and Microsoft worked, had to deliver everything.
It was a post that Google heard loud and clear, if a little too late. Shortly after Facebook released a free call, the search giant revealed that it would launch Hangouts into a stand-alone service that would combine text, audio, and video calls under one app banner. Unfortunately, Google’s policy to retain several variations of the same product has compromised the dream. It kept Google Talk alive until 2017, even after the launch of the new Instant Messaging app Allo, in 2016. Google will shut down Allo in 2018.
By 2015, neither Hangouts nor Skype were doing well relative to their consumer-focused networking rivals. In the meantime, there was a new challenge on the horizon.
Team video chat was coming along for the ride. Most of the big messaging apps at this point had some sort of one-to-one video chatting, and bringing a lot of users together in one video chat was a niche event, not one that users enjoyed all that much overall. The organizational context probably made more sense for group video calls, because it required remote meetings and fast face-to-face discussions within a team where text-based communication of business plans was inefficient.
In 2017, after almost a year of telegraphing the switch, Google launched a badly called Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet. Chat was a Slack-like chat room application, while Meet was a video conferencing app that most closely resembled both the original Hangouts feature released in 2011, and today’s Zoom Meeting calls. Although Google still technically provided video chat through consumer-focused Hangouts, the company has indicated that it will eventually retire Hangouts to G Suite users since 2018.
It makes it easier to give Google Meet to all users with a Gmail account for free, all the more shocking. Right now, Google is providing two rival video messaging apps, both of which were, at least until recently, called Hangouts.
Google doesn’t say how many people use Chat (although it estimates that 6 million businesses pay for G Suite, which includes the service) but Microsoft’s Slack rival, Microsoft Teams, is doing very well. After being released publicly in 2017, Slack rapidly outperformed active daily users by the end of 2019 and has also seen a significant surge in daily users over the past month as remote work has increased.
But, like Google, Microsoft has spent years maintaining numerous video chat offerings. The teams used video chat during the launch. The company also provides a feature via Skype for Business, which the company said will be phased out by 2021 in 2017, although it is still available to businesses that use it. Finally, there’s the video chat feature of the simple consumer-focused Skype app.
That means, right now, if you’re going to have a group video chat through a Microsoft domain, you have three different choices, and two of them are called Skype.
By the time the coronavirus pandemic struck, both Google and Microsoft’s best video chat apps were either connected to consumer goods that consumers no longer required, or locked inside enterprise-focused applications that were too difficult to set up on the fly. Whether the video chat itself was a positive thing was meaningless. For the time being, the channels to which they were connected were essentially built for the wrong audience.
Neither company was in a strong position to capitalize on a rapid and unexpected rise in demand for video conferencing devices. But, in part, they were in bad positions because they were pursuing a demand they never quite caught up to. Microsoft and Google’s video chat history over the last decade paint a picture of two firms trying to reach the right audience. First, they designed video conferencing apps while users required text. Then they turned to create messaging apps when users needed enterprise group chat. Now they’re converting their company talks to video conferencing.
We hope you can enjoy this Articles.