While most businesses are seeing their revenues shrink drastically because of the coronavirus pandemic, a few have bucked the trend.
One such is Zoom, the video conferencing app.
The Silicon Valley start-up, launched in 2011, has become a household name with millions downloading it to connect professionally and socially due to the intense social distancing norms and continued work from home in the past couple of months.
With its ability to scale up fast, free use and simple interface, Zoom has managed to stay ahead of the game, outpacing its high-profile competitors such as Cisco’s Webex, Microsoft’s Skype, and Google’s Google Meet.
As a result, its daily meeting participants spiked to 200 million in March from 10 million in December the previous year and its share price rose 67 percent from the beginning of February to the end of March (even as stock markets plunged everywhere).
But, now, Zoom has a brand-new challenger called JioMeet, and by the looks of things, the latter could very well change the narrative.
Recently launched by the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries, JioMeet, having similar features as Zoom, has not just garnered rave reviews, but also over a lakh downloads on Play Store within a couple of days.
The biggest ammo in its arsenal is the free unlimited, uninterrupted high-definition calls for 24 hours for up to 100 participants. Zoom caps such free calls at 40 minutes. And this difference could well be the gamechanger.
In fact, JioMeet, as of now, has no paid plans, and as per American online publisher TechCrunch, “it’s unclear if Jio Platform which has a reputation of giving away services for free for years, plans to change that.”
Other winning features of JioMeet include encrypted and password protected meetings, multi-device login support (up to five devices), screen sharing and collaborating, and a “Safe Driving Mode” for meetings during commute time. Meeting hosts also have the option to enable a “waiting room” which require participants to ask for permissions to hop on to a call – this is something Zoom users enjoy too.
Unlike Zoom, however, JioMeet allows users to expand shared video’s and screens with a double tap, show 9 participants on a single mobile screen (Zoom shows just 4), and enable seamless switching from one device to another.
Such features and functionalities, no doubt, give it an edge over Zoom, currently the most popular video conferencing solution in India with over 35 million active monthly users on Android (Android powers almost every smartphone in India).
To forge ahead and grab market share, Reliance now needs to popularize the product among the masses.
And Ambani already has a roadmap ready for it – integrating JioMeet with other platforms such as Jio’s eHealth and eEducation for online consultation with physicians, ordering medicines, conducting educational courses, recording lectures, and others.
Given Jio’s humungous subscriber base – it’s the largest telecom operator in India – the bet may well pay off.
Add to that the timing of the launch and the number of users could explode in no time.
It also helps, of course, that Zoom is getting flak lately for sending user data to Facebook, wrongly claiming end-to-end encryption and Zoombombing in which miscreants forcefully join video conferences to share pornography, abuse, or make racist remarks.
Against this scenario, the Indian government is already said to be exploring alternate indigenous conferencing solutions for remote operations and communicating with agencies and state governments.
Meanwhile, to bolster confidence, JioMeet has added additional security features within a week of it's launch to prevent hackers from barging in.
With so much going for it, JioMeet could well be a disrupter much like Reliance Jio, which shook up the Indian telecom space bigtime with knockdown rates and free services and grabbed maximum market share beating its well-entrenched rivals.