The pandemic COVID-19 has brought with it some new vocabulary and new practices. We wash our hands, we take our temperature, we shelter in place at home, we watch YouTube and Netflix, we practice social distancing and we wear our masks on the rare occasions we need to leave the house — and we Zoom.
Zoom.us has been around since 2011 but many have only recently heard of it. As described on their website, “Zoom is a cloud-based video conferencing service you can use to virtually meet with others — either by video or audio-only or both, all while conducting live chats — and it lets you record those sessions to view later. Over half of Fortune 500 companies reportedly used Zoom in 2019.”
Even though participants must download the Zoom app to communicate with each other, it’s designed to be so easy it’s almost completely transparent. Earlier this week I was part of almost 3,000 users on Zoom attending one webinar. Tonight I was a presenter with a group of just 14. Zoom can be useful with as few as two people who need to video-conference with each other from their homes. That’s part of the beauty of Zoom — it scales easily.
The other factor that has made Zoom so popular is its cost. For up to 100 users videoconferencing up to 40 minutes, Zoom is free. For more than 40 minutes or for more than 100 users, monthly or yearly rates are within the budgets of most small businesses. With today’s work-from-home environment, Zoom has become an integral tool for thousands of businesses. They are having their best year ever.
Service isn’t perfect. They’ve had some security issues with hackers breaking into meetings and wreaking havoc. But they’ve responded with more secure connections and stronger password protection. In some cases there are ongoing technical glitches that stubbornly interrupt service. Tonight, for instance, my presentation was interrupted three times as I lost my connection due to an application crash while I was sharing my screen with the group. Fortunately users are mostly patient and understanding, at least for now, with some of these technical issues.
One of the participants in my meeting tonight said after the meeting that even if/when social distancing ends, they’d prefer to keep meeting this way. Several others quickly agreed. Zoom may become part of our “new normal.”
No pants required.
Tom Lunde says
In these days of virtual meetings, we tried a Zoom session with some cousins. One disadvantage was the forty minute time limit with the free version. We hit the limit and had to login again, which was a bit of a pain. We have also used Skype and FB video messenger, with no time limits.
Bob Bergey says
Thanks for your comment! Yes, I admit the 40 minute limit is inconvenient. On the other hand, with Zoom you don’t have to set up an account In advance (unless you’re the originator of the call) — just click on the link in an email invite, the software downloads and connects you pretty much automatically.
Frank Bucher says
I missed tonight’s Zoom meeting but have attended many and hosted some. For sharing screens, I like it. For groups I like it. For one on one, non business, not as much. But business was the point for this tool originally,
I find a lot of users who are not strong computer users are confused about options and settings. The host can help but I sense frustration by new users. As time goes on, this will drop off.
On the plus side the gallery view improves the sense of community and in some of the book clubs, the photography club and the Bible study, I find long distance “attendance” improves. This feature in itself makes me hope it stays around longer than the virus. I might even go so far as to say this might be the new wave of the future. Perhaps a combination of in person meeting and Zoom would be the best of all worlds.
My two cents.
Bob Bergey says
Thanks, Frank — We missed you in the BMMUG Zoom meeting. Good observations in your comment. I agree, and I think the various communications options will continue to improve over time.