Facebook announced its own group video conferencing service last week, which is also free and hosts up to 50 people at a time. Facebook’s Messenger Rooms is launching over the next few weeks.
Zoom’s jump in popularity is just too hard for Silicon Valley to resist. The once-niche product has experienced massive user growth as people work from home and stay in touch with friends and family. Zoom now boasts more than 200 million daily users of the service.
And while Zoom has become popular for both work and social occasions, the game-friendly Houseparty app has also exploded in popularity. Houseparty allows people to drop in on different video calls their friends are part of and play games, simulating virtual party hopping.
Meet is also booming during coronavirus lockdowns, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said on an analyst call Tuesday. Meet now has 100 million daily users and is adding about 3 million new users each day, executives said.
Meet will be free for anyone with a Google account, and doesn’t require a separate desktop app to use. It’s web-based and has a free mobile app for those chatting on the go. Anyone will be able to create a meeting and invite others to it — but everyone, including participants, will need a Google login to join.
The service won’t enforce time limits for now, but after September 30 will likely limit free users to an hour per call.
It makes sense for Facebook and Google to invest in video conferencing, given the “bonanza of growth” Zoom is seeing, said Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives.
“Given the massive user base and existing platform, this is a smart strategic move — although Zoom has built a formidable moat and has become synonymous with video chats across the consumer and enterprise landscape,” he said.
Buying smaller companies could also be a potential path forward for the tech giants to gain solid footing in the market, he said.
Pichai said video conferencing was one of the many products the company is prioritizing as revenue from Google’s core digital advertising business slows in the uncertain pandemic times.
“And so we are looking at shifts, be it video conferencing with Google Meet and G Suite, and adapting and investing in those areas as well,” he told analysts.
Google has two other video chat apps — Hangouts, the once popular chat app for individuals that the company has started phasing out. It also has Duo, a video calling app made primarily for phones and tablets.
Hoping to avoid so-called “Zoombombing,” Meet requires people to be logged in with a Google account to join or start a call and allows hosts to monitor and remove people in calls. Google says Meet data will not be used for advertising, a common privacy concern for the company that makes money in large part by letting advertisers target specific ads at users.
Correction: Zoom has more than 200 million daily users. The company originally said it had more than 300 million, but adjusted that number to account for people using it more than once.