The emergence of ZOOM



The new normal for virtual meetings.


Photographs: iStock

Text: Mariano Anthony Davies


Although Zoom has been a relatively successful American video communication company for the business community since 2011, the global lockdown took Zoom from being another reasonably successful American video conferencing alternative to Microsoft’s Skype and turned it into a globally known brand during the first quarter of 2020.


The global video conferencing market size was valued at USD 3.85 billion in 2019 and is expected to register a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 9.9% or higher from 2020 to 2027. Video conferencing refers to the process of conducting meetings using telecommunication technologies and involves a real-time, two-way transmission of audio and video content. Video conferencing aids companies in faster decision making and eliminates travel time and associated costs.


Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom has been a cloud-based video conferencing application mainly used by businesses to host meetings with remote or international colleagues and clients. Like Skype, it has a basic version that is also completely free of charge. Now it is a tool also used widely as a social media alternative.


It is a video conferencing system that is celebrated for its ease of use, high-quality HD video and audio. It includes collaboration facilities such as text chat and screen sharing, and attendees can also join a Zoom meeting without signing into the app, but someone must sign up for an account to host a video conference.


Basic features Among its free features, it includes all the basics for video conferencing. There’s no limit to the number of meetings and Users can join with the Zoom app or by calling from a phone line. Its video resolution quality is excellent (provided correct settings) and audio comes through clearly on fast Internet connections, while virtual backgrounds ensure privacy and a professional environment.


The free Zoom version offers video conferencing for up to 100 participants, provided that these meetings do not last more than 40 minutes, at which point attendees are ejected and will need to redial into a new maximum 40-minute session to continue.


Popular features include that multiple users can share screens and annotate with whiteboard functions and Zoom works on iOS/iPadOS (with screen-sharing), MacOS, Android and Windows, so all business devices are covered. It also integrates with Chrome & Outlook and all versions include local recording, thus reducing the need for detailed minutes.


"Zoom is a tool used widely as a social media alternative. It is a video conferencing system that is celebrated for its ease of use, high-quality HD video and audio."

Interface and performance The Zoom interface is lightweight and easy to use, both on desktops and mobile apps. The app has four buttons: New Meeting, Join, Schedule and Screen Share - with a calendar for upcoming meetings.


For those prepared to pay for it, the web app offers more advanced features, such as managing your profile, managing local and cloud recordings, and scheduling webinars. Full marks to Zoom for developing an interface that is clean and easy to navigate.


In terms of performance, Zoom relays audio and video impressively fast - almost in real-time. Screen sharing was slightly slower, but not cumbersome. This speed comes with a price, though: Zoom is heavy on system resources. It uses about 50% CPU on a 2.6 GHz 6-Core Intel Core i7, and had a high energy impact, although memory use seems to be minimal.


Security considerations

Users should be aware that no video-conferencing software is 100% secure. Sensitive data should be sent through tried and trusted encrypted channels. A basic Zoom package does not offer end-to-end encryption. However, given the substantial level of market penetration during the global lockdown, Zoom is developing and improving their security features at lightning speed.


Alternatives to Zoom

The pandemic has been a growth period for all video conferencing systems and has perhaps created a new formal and informal behaviour that will last beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Alternative functional video conferencing systems include Microsoft Team, Google Hangouts, RingCentral, Skype, Skype for Business and Cisco WebEx.


If you are looking for a video conferencing system and want to compare those on the market to find the one that best suits your needs, you should go to www.tomsguide.com