Facebook and Google are coming for Zoom

If there's one company the pandemic has turned into a household name, it's Zoom. Amid the continued state lockdowns, the video conferencing platform has beco...

Posted: May 1, 2020 3:46 AM

If there's one company the pandemic has turned into a household name, it's Zoom. Amid the continued state lockdowns, the video conferencing platform has become a lifeline for schools and businesses and a gathering place for virtual cocktail hours, birthday parties, workout classes and even weddings. And that hasn't escaped the notice of some of the world's biggest technology companies, including Facebook and Google.

The two tech giants are now gunning for Zoom by ramping up their own group video apps, raising questions about whether they'll be able to successfully eat Zoom's lunch by leveraging the immense advantages they hold in scale and existing user loyalty. The added competition will also test whether Zoom has done enough to allay the privacy concerns that cropped up as its service was taking off.

Facebook last week announced a new service it's calling Messenger Rooms, which doesn't require a Facebook account and allows up to 50 people to meet virtually for as long as they like. This week, Google said its video conferencing tool for businesses, Google Meet, will now be free to everyone with an email address — allowing up to 100 people to meet for as long as they like. By comparison, Zoom's free tier allows 100 people to meet for up to 40 minutes at a time.

The intensifying competition means consumers will have more choices for group video calls. But there are also long-term implications for the market and whether user demand will support multiple providers — or if a single winner will emerge.

To measure its success, Zoom has turned to a metric known as "daily meeting participants," or the number of people Zoom hosts in meetings during a given day. (It's not quite the same metric as "daily users," because one user can participate in several meetings throughout a day.)

Last week, Zoom said it hosted 300 million meeting participants each day, up from 200 million per day in March, suggesting dramatic growth. Google isn't far behind; last week, according to the company, Google Meet hit 100 million daily meeting participants. It's early to be getting comparable numbers for Facebook's Messenger Rooms, but the company said in its announcement that between WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, 700 million accounts already participate in video calls each day.

That makes Facebook in particular a massive competitor to Zoom with a large, built-in audience and a strong consumer brand.

"It's more likely that Facebook will be successful than Google," said Laura Martin, an industry analyst at Needham & Co, "based on Google's track record of late entries into other companies' businesses, where its results have been anemic."

Zoom didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Facebook's and Google's offerings.

Facebook has a history of aping popular features of its competitors and turning them into successful products given its scale. For example, its launch of Instagram Stories was widely viewed as an answer to Snapchat, whose growth subsequently slowed to a crawl.

Whether Zoom faces the same fate is unclear. But some experts say video conferencing differs from pure social networking, where how many of your friends are also using the same service matters more.

"Unlike a social network, a user doesn't need to spend time replicating their hundreds of friend connections each time they join a new video call service," said Charlotte Slaiman, a competition expert at the consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge. "As a result, consumers may be more willing to 'multi-home,' or use multiple services, on video calls."

Geoffrey Manne, a competition expert at the International Center for Law and Economics, said the video conferencing market could easily be defined by several strong players rather than a single, dominant company capitalizing on winner-take-all effects.

"Barring some self-inflicted catastrophe," he said, "I don't see Zoom losing steam anytime soon."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 387485

Reported Deaths: 5116
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah59768836
Washington41571393
Marion39592504
Clackamas32426376
Lane29856354
Jackson24672350
Deschutes23182185
Umatilla15087180
Linn14488178
Douglas13236286
Josephine10057240
Yamhill9665142
Klamath8979145
Polk813698
Benton605137
Malheur591586
Coos5573106
Columbia423855
Jefferson416865
Lincoln357252
Union336854
Crook330156
Wasco314846
Clatsop258335
Baker217531
Tillamook214345
Hood River211337
Morrow197025
Curry190136
Harney119332
Grant108314
Lake104016
Wallowa74713
Sherman1903
Gilliam1844
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5060666

Reported Deaths: 74152
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152491227121
San Diego4047084319
Riverside3849455306
San Bernardino3718825944
Orange3329505675
Sacramento1674002423
Kern1565171781
Fresno1558992246
Santa Clara1511691922
Alameda1246581504
San Joaquin1070001833
Ventura1036461188
Contra Costa1032921045
Stanislaus912991413
Tulare856141082
San Francisco56614669
San Mateo56058629
Monterey52340625
Solano47422356
Santa Barbara47035548
Merced44807664
Sonoma42912412
Placer41881468
Imperial38128769
Kings35038358
San Luis Obispo31294358
Madera26005311
Shasta25917440
Butte25295309
Santa Cruz22028222
Yolo21451257
Marin18342248
El Dorado18166161
Sutter14494181
Napa13372104
Yuba1070088
Tehama10230129
Humboldt10043117
Nevada9914103
Mendocino848894
Lassen792355
San Benito775977
Tuolumne767790
Lake6990110
Amador573766
Siskiyou470954
Glenn455136
Calaveras435685
Del Norte371242
Colusa323519
Inyo254345
Plumas19127
Mono18294
Mariposa156718
Trinity98817
Modoc7475
Unassigned2430
Sierra2170
Alpine1060
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