First Microsoft and Google incorporated classic Zoom features like breakout rooms into their own video-conferencing services. Now Zoom is reportedly challenging the tech titans by developing its own email and calendar apps, according to a report from The Information.
Thanks in large part to millions of people going to school and working from home, Zoom shares have climbed 500% since the beginning of the year. This signals room for growth for the video-conferencing platform, but also the need to diversify — once students return to in-classroom instruction and workers start returning to the office, our collective dependence on Zoom will fade, The Information notes.
According to sources who spoke with the publication, CEO Eric Yuan envisions “broadening the company’s videoconferencing service into a full-fledged platform that would include email, messaging and other productivity tools.” Zoom can already integrate with a number of different programs, like Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar, Dropbox, and Asana.
Part of Zoom’s popularity is its ease of use, but schools in particular latched onto the platform early on because it removed the 40-minute time limit on free basic accounts for educators and students affected by covid-19, which will likely remain the case until schools fully reopen for in-person instruction.
It could be advantageous for Zoom to develop its own services to complement its video-conferencing software, considering a massive drop in use is likely once the world returns to “normal.” However, Yuan reportedly told senior leadership that Zoom needs a strong messaging product if it has any hopes of competing with Microsoft and Google for large corporate contracts.
Anything new Zoom rolls out is sure to be met with scrutiny, too. The road to popularity hasn’t been a smooth one: The company finally added end-to-end encryption to video-conferencing meetings in October. Last month, it settled with the FTC for allegedly lying to everyone about said encryption. And just a few days ago, a Zoom executive was accused of censoring video calls at the request of the Chinese government. Did we mention all the Zoombombings?
But it’s unclear whether an email or calendar service is the smartest play here, given that corporations and individuals already have their preferred services and the competition is well established. A messaging app to complement and integrate with the video-conferencing component — and compete with Slack — might be a better move. Either way, Zoom execs should probably move quickly; with the covid-19 vaccines rolling out now, the company’s window of opportunity to capitalise on its ubiquitousness may be closing.