It was second-most downloaded on the Australian App Store as the threat of COVID-19 grew.
Zoom has been named Apple's iPad App of 2020 after a year of isolation.
It was second-most downloaded on the Australian App Store as the threat of the pandemic grew, trailing only the government's COVIDSafe app.
Mark Santomartino sat down with Zoom spokesperson Jennifer Hill to talk COVID-19, how the app can survive post-vaccine and what's to come.
Mark Santomartino: Zoom, in the best way possible, has become a poster child of the pandemic and working from home. Do you realise that we couldn't have done 2020 without Zoom?
Jennifer Hill: Yes, and all of us here at Zoom are just extremely humbled and excited to help the world stay connected and, you know, sane.
I know it's helped me.
The Apple awards this year are recognising apps that have helped us get through an unprecedented year.
MS: Zoom wasn't created for the pandemic so can you talk to me about where you were as a business beforehand and how things changed?
JH: We still are enterprise focused for large businesses, that's our bread and butter. That's what we built the platform for.
Because we built the platform in the cloud and to prioritise video even in low bandwidth situations, we were able to scale tremendously right as opposed to some of our other video conferencing software competitors.
I think that's really what set us up to be able to pivot quickly.
In five months we went from ten million daily active meeting participants to 300-million and that trend is continued.
We couldn't ignore the fact that there was a large consumer contingent... for like birthday parties and concerts and bar mitzvahs and weddings and all these sorts of things, we realised that we need to create some solutions that are specifically for consumers.
At Zoomtopia in October we announced OnZoom, which is an online events platform for all of those yoga teachers who are doing their series and all these concert series that people are still throwing.
They're already doing their thing on Zoom and struggling to figure out how to monetise now they can sell tickets and have a place to kind of advertise and be highlighted.
The second announcement that we had to pivot was Zoom Apps (or Zapps) where today Zoom can be used in integration into other things right on your desktop, on your mobile or into calendaring apps.
We've seen Zoom put into dating apps too.
So, instead of Zoom being in somewhere else, Zoom Apps is bringing other third-party apps into the Zoom meetings.
Imagine we're all sitting here and I need to share some files. I can do that over Dropbox and now I don't have to navigate to a different window, open Dropbox, get the link, bring the thing in here, I can just go into my Zoom Apps... click Dropbox and now I have everything and everyone can see it and be shared.
We have all sorts of Zoom Apps lined up to launch and hopefully ship by the end of the year.
MS: We all hope that this pandemic doesn't last forever but while people are stuck at home there's obviously an increased need for Zoom. Do you foresee that changing if we do get a vaccine?
JH: It's not an "or" conversation. That's a big question, right? Is it going to be real life or virtual?
It's not going to be "or" in the future, it's going to be 'and'.
Businesses are creating whole new models that they've never had before for virtual audiences and that's just going to continue and augment what they do in real life.
I'm not going to stop seeing my family that I couldn't travel to see on Zoom meetings.
I wouldn't fly out to those states to see my family every week but I sure will go and Zoom.
MS: You've already drawn a distinction between your business clients who obviously are paying a lot of money for a premium service and everyday users. I think the family connection is enough but is there anything extra coming to incentivise them beyond just wanting to see their dad?
JH: I can't share a lot of our roadmap, but I can tell you that we're heavily featured on new features that allow us to connect more.
We already have some features that we're pretty famous for; our backgrounds and our filters, you know, adding some happy faces or something like.
You couldn't do this ad hoc in real life but you can do it over Zoom. So I think that there is a culture that has been built around Zoom that is going to continue.
Once we entered this whole pandemic we kind of stopped doing outbound marketing and awareness because you know people have just naturally and just organically shared and used Zoom.
I don't think that that's going to go away and it's only going to increase as we make that connection even easier.
There could be a Zoom App about the latest drinks from around the world to try and people will have these virtual happy hours and the App will pop up and say, "Hey, it's time to drink this drink. Go and make it in your kitchen."
I think there's a whole new way of socialising.
It's not necessarily an aim of Zoom to do that and draw those free users. We build our platform to be so human and to connect with where people are.
I think it's just going to continue to naturally happen as it has today.
MS: When the pandemic started, Zoom was the the go-to for so many people. You weren't the only video conferencing app out there. Why do you think the Zoom was the go to as opposed to something like a Google Hangout, Microsoft Teams or even Facebook FaceTime?
JH: I think because we have focused on it being very simple.
Sending your meeting link and not having to log in and just popping up on your web browser; you don't have to download a client.
That ease of use has been a key part in partnership with our reliability.
I used to work for Cisco and not to bash my former employer but, you'd have connection problems and audio problems and that's across any video conferencing platform, not just Cisco but it happens less with Zoom because we have designed it our platform specifically to run in lower bandwidth situations and to scale naturally from the cloud.
We can reach places with lower bandwidth that wouldn't even have video conferencing available and, even if your internet fluctuates, it happens right a lot more.
I think that's why you know, we've come out ahead as opposed to other like video conferencing or video services.
MS: On the topic of bandwidth, 5G's obviously rolling out around the world and once we're set free from our homes do you foresee that as something you need to be focused on? Connecting on phones rather than on desktops?
JH: We aren't focused particularly on 5G but we are increasing the usability of our mobile users.
We are anticipating people using mobile much more and we are already kind of seeing that trend whether it's a cell phone, tablet or some other smaller device that's not a PC or a laptop.
MS: We don't want to talk too much about numbers but your stock has risen 600 per cent this year. Zoom smashed its quarterly predictions and your dividends went up 99 cents as opposed to the predicted 70. How long can that last?
JH: When we're measured with our competitors, you're really looking at other unified communications platforms.
At Zoom our philosophy is to go beyond unified communications to completely redefine how that is done.
We're just continuing to really innovate and push the boundaries of what video means… I think that's why we don't have that glass ceiling that maybe some of our other competitors do.
We're focused on enabling people to do more, period. It sounds very broad but that's why we have this kind of endless expanse.
It's everything from light-hearted first birthday parties and anniversaries, weddings to very serious things like congressional hearings and judicial hearings.
Let's say there's a disaster. A hurricane or something hits the coast and if you imagine first responders communicating and describing what's happening, describing what they need.
That will take quite some time to relay that information back to a home base to be able to send to reinforcements or or supplies.
Or you can share a Zoom video in the field and they can see instantaneously the damage that's been done and deploy that much faster.
You can see the limitations just totally blow out of the system. Just like what phones did for emergencies where anyone now can call in an emergency.
MS: Are you relying on what's already there or building another app or another platform for Emergency Services to do that more efficiently and obviously in a secure environment?
JH: A little bit of both.
We actually have very specific features coming out specifically, E911.
So we are purposely building some things… but the applications of what we're building are limitless in what it can do in the field and be used in other ways.
MS: When you think about emergency services, you do think about security. Police radios down here in Victoria are encrypted but in terms of privacy and security across Zoom as a whole, how has that changed since the beginning of the pandemic? Where do you go from here?
JH: We've always had robust security but since the beginning of the pandemic, if you can imagine, Zoom puts out 300 features a year.
We stopped everything that wasn't focused on security for 90 days in the beginning of the pandemic.
So every team, every resource was developed to really make sure that our security is industry leading and top-notch.
Now we're happy to announce that we have end-to-end security encryption in Zoom, starting in beta with our meetings and working across the rest of our platform.
We are now and will forever be focused on security going forward.
MS: I don't know what you think your value to the economy in this time has been, but you cannot argue Zoom's impact a very human element; the fact that video conferencing has continued to break down the barriers of isolation.
One of my colleagues attended his brother's wedding in Perth via Zoom. He was an iPad on a stick on top of a suit jacket, which was hilarious but obviously, he would have missed out.
JH: We actually have an internal chat channel with everybody here internally at Zoom sharing cool and inspiring stories.
I actually was just on that channel today and a colleague of mine said, "Hey, I had a friend who is prone to seizures he was on a call with and he had a seizure."
Had he not been on video on Zoom they wouldn't be able to tell because he would have just gone quiet on the phone but they were able to tell and they were able to get emergency services there and you know attend to him before there was any kind of permanent damage.
Even for myself and my 95-year-old grandmother who couldn't travel, COVID-19 or otherwise, was able to join my daughter's first birthday party.
Something like that especially for the elderly in isolation, who are exposed populations which can't have contact, it's so crucial for their happiness and their psyches.
We are very well aware that and honestly that's a really big part of what drives us here at Zoom.
MS: How do you take Zoom beyond the desktop? Beyond the phone to something bigger? Is it smart TVs? What are you planning?
JH: I can't really share that with you but I'll just tell you it's very exciting.
I just get tingly thinking about what we can do. Stay tuned - the old you'll see a lot more of us and it will be really cool.
APPLE AWARDS 2020 CATEGORY WINNERS:
APPS OF THE YEAR
- iPad App Of The Year: Zoom
- iPhone App Of The Year: Wakeout!
- Mac App of the Year: Fantastical
- Apple Watch App Of The Year: Endel
- Apple TV Game of the Year: Disney+
GAMES OF THE YEAR
- iPhone Game Of The Year: Genshin Impact
- iPad Game Of The Year: Legends of Runeterra
- Mac Game of the Year: Disco Elysium
- Arcade Game Of The Year: Sneaky Sasquatch
- Apple TV Game of the Year: Dandara Trials of Fear
MOST HELPFUL APPS OF 2020
- Reinventing Play: Pokémon GO
- Connecting Families: Caribu: Video Calls Kids Love
- Practicing Self-Care: Shine: Calm Anxiety & Stress
- Leading Classrooms: Explain Everything Whiteboard
- Making a Difference: ShareTheMeal
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/world/technology-awards-zoom-named-apples-ipad-app-of-the-year/6646b018-883f-4508-9d05-1947b6f971b5