How crisis Zoomed us away from Skype

Halldor Engilbertsson, Høyskolen Kristiania.

The Zoom brand gained world wide recognition over night. How can we explain the rocket success?

KRISTIANIA THOUGHTS: Brand Value through User Experience

I admit, in February 2020, Zoom was unknown to me. Before Covid-19 I thought Skype was competing against Facebook and Google!

Skype had such a strong position in 2011 that Microsoft was willing to pay a whopping $ 8.5 billion dollars for reasons no one understood back then (and much less today).

Even though Skype was integrated into Microsoft as Skype for Business, hardly anybody was using it.

Skype has fallen behind

There are several reasons why its popularity dvindeled but few would ever had praised the application for being smart or reliable. Microsoft never managed to capitalise on the brand recognition Skype had. The application remained elementary and of little value for customers when competing platforms offered better quality via mobile operator networks.

To be fair, Microsoft has managed to turn Skype into a useful work-communication tool within organisations. As a tool to host larger meetings and events, Skype has fallen behind.

Rocket success

The lesson? In tech, brand value is hard to keep without a burning passion for great service design. In order to stay relevant, companies must study how usability can be implemented as valuable features of a brand. Recognition without relevance is a recipe for failure.

We meet at Zoom (Illustrastion: Zoom.us).
We meet at Zoom (Illustration: Zoom.us).

This post will not dwell on Microsofts misfortune but rather explore the rocket success of Zoom.us.

The outbreak of the novel Covid virus eventually lead to temporary lock-downs of business, schools and agencies around the world. In a matter of days, thousands were in need for reliable online tools to host meetings and seminars. There was an urgent demand for a service that facilitated for shared group meetings in a stimulating online scape.

Read also: Kunsten å undervise digitalt (in Norwegian)

Moving to Zoom

Moving Several Universities around the world quickly moved teaching from the classroom to Zoom. The change has been enormous.

For example in Norway. In the beginning of March 2020, less than a hundred Zoom meeting were organised daily. By 18th of March, more than 55.000 such meetings are being hosted with students and staff every day. The learning curve was steep for many but the transition has gone incredibly smooth.

For this market, Zoom proved to be a fully functional and in-depth video conference tool. Anyone with the right URL can join the meeting, up to 100 participants to be exact. Hosts can divide large group into smaller groups, chat, poll, share, write and record – all at the same time.

User experience

These are features unknown in Skype but could have easily been there if user experience would have been the guiding light in its design. The sudden popularity of Zoom will be remembered because of great user experience.

Such experiences can only be developed with close customer-provider interactions.

The timing was perfect luck! No wonder Zoom.us has increased in market value. In less than two months Zoom.us increased in value by 100%. How much will Microsoft be willing to pay this time?

Reference:

This article was first published on Halldor Engilbertsson’s LinkedIN account on 27th of March 2020.

Text: Assistant Professor Halldor Örn Engilbertsson, Department of Marketing, Kristiania University College.

Comments?:

Send your comments and questions regarding this article by E-mail to kunnskap@kristiania.no.

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