Thevideo callsLet’s face it, they were used until recently by someone who had friends abroad, did phone sex or companies that wanted to save on travel, but since theCovid-19 He has confined everyone to home, who more or less already handles the video and audio of his phone and has learned to focus his face to talk to the family, do the vermouth, go to class or participate in a yoga session. There are ddozens of programsthat allow to virtually save the group meetings that are still banned in the streets. The question is whether this boom is here to stay or will it be a passing fad linked to a black memory.
Since the beginning of the confinement, the traffic of video calls on the Internet doubled in Spain and is only growing, according to data from the network traffic manager De-Cix.ZoomIt has been the application that has grown the most, but alsoGoogle Hangouts,Skype,WhatsAppvideo orFacetime. And its rise comes from groups, not face-to-face conversations, thanks to telecommuting, distance classes, and friends’ gatherings.
The programs that have grown the most are aimed at private users and linked to mobile phonesand not to computers. Google Hangouts, thanks to Android phones; Facetime because it is the iPhone’s default calling app; WhatsApp because it has become the new communications standard (more than 95% of mobile users in Spain use it) andSkype, which has the advantage of being the oldest.
“Seeing each other’s faces in a group video conference consoles us, because with the face we anticipate the emotions and we know what we are going to say next. It is an improvement in unconscious communication, but it gives us peace of mind that everything is going to be okay and it calms our fear, “says the psychologist.Monica Dosil, from Doctoralia.
Taking advantage of these shortcomings in times of social confinement has meant discovering a market niche for technology companies that remains to be seen how long it will last.
The Zoom Boom
In the business world, Zoom has managed to gain ground to Cisco Webex, RingCentral or Skype. And that Cisco, which made the tool free for individuals also since the start of the pandemic, in the face of the advance of rivals, claims that it has doubled its traffic during the first half of March.
It was a way of trying not to die trying, because Zoom was created by a former Chinese-born Cisco executive, Erick Yuan, who was rejected by his former employers for the idea of creating an app to make multiple video calls from mobile. Yuan said goodbye and created his company, and now he is a millionaire and has 60% of the Fortune 500 companies as clients, as he presumes. Zoom, in total, already has more than 300 million daily users.In Spain its use has grown up to 6,000% since the start of the pandemic, with 1,000% weekly increases, according to Vodafone data.
The key to success inZoom is no registration requiredIt supports up to 100 users at a time and is free for up to 40 minutes. It also supports filters and allows sharing documents on screen. The business model is based on subscriptions, which extends everything the user can do with the tool. However, its success has been hampered by security concerns.
State agencies such as the National Cryptologic Center have discovered that anyone could sabotage a videoconference by sending videos (sex at work meetings were famous) or constantly interrupt the rest with audio. In English they have coined up to one term, ‘zoombombing’. It was also possible to filter the email addresses and photos of the users and their contacts, inadmissible problems for an application of this level.
Google extends its Meet
Google has seen how, since the start of the pandemic, its Hangout fell short.The internet giant announced Wednesday that it is going to give free Meet, the video calling tool for business and education users (integrated in G-Suite and Classroom), and which supports up to 250 simultaneous users. However, in the consumer version – about which they say they are not going to put ads, as they do in the mail and the browser – it will not have functions such as being able to record calls.
Jitsi – who was in the spotlight of Google – has also become very popular these days because, like Zoom, it does not require registration of the participants and is free.It is the system that La Moncloa uses in press conferenceswith journalists, for example. It is ‘open source’ (anyone can see the code and improve it) and is supported by the developer community and by the 8×8 company, which charges to add extra functions to other companies and programs.
Facebook and Microsoft
Facebook has beefed up WhatsApp a bit, which will now support video calls of up to eight participants at once, but where he has focused his efforts is on Messenger. Last Friday it announced Messenger Rooms, for video calls of up to 50 participants with no time limit.
Microsoft, on the other hand, has had better with Skype, which it bought in 2011 for the then scandalous figure of 8,500 million euros (Facebook bought WhatsApp six years later for almost double). The dean of video conferencing programs, created in 2003 and which supports up to 50 people at a time, has seen its use increase these days by 70% and now reaches 40 million people daily.
Another program of his, Teams, the fastest growing in the entire history of the companyThanks to its connection to the extremely popular Office, it already has 75 million million daily users worldwide, according to figures announced this Thursday, 40% more than six weeks ago, the vast majority of which are companies. Microsoft plans to release a version for home users that may include sharing shopping lists, travel plans, and location sharing.
Another app that has been quite successful, especially in Anglo-Saxon countries, has been Houseparty, which was bought almost a year ago by the video game company Epic Games, owner of ‘Fortnite’. However, it has fallen to Zoom because it only supports 8 simultaneous participants.
The million dollar question is now whether this boom in group video calls is here to stay. “The human being tends to forget the trauma, but there are many professionals who have discovered that through videoconferences they sell other products and that what seemed free is helping them to bill for books, courses and others. And I don’t think that will happen. “Dosil says.