Fueled by the pandemic, Zoom grew from 10 million daily active users to 200 million in 3 months. At Upfocus, we help companies find, grow, and maintain product market fit. We were curious how well positioned is Zoom to retain these new users. At the beginning of April, we surveyed 62 Zoom customers. The results were worrisome because many of their new users are consumers, which transforms Zoom from a video conferencing solution for businesses into a consumer video chat application.
Here is what we’ll cover in this business breakdown:
- Zoom isn’t as well-positioned for the consumer market.
- Zoom only delivers the basics, and doesn’t yet have enough competitive differentiation.
- Google and Microsoft are a threat because they deeply integrate with core business apps.
- One way Zoom can keep its market position is to focus on shared experiences.
One question our Upfocus survey asks is “What types of people would most benefit from Zoom?” In order of popularity, here are the types of people Zoom users think the product is for:
Over half of our survey respondents think that Zoom is not just for business owners. In order for Zoom to keep its new daily active users, it will need to find and maintain product/market fit across all of those personas, while fending off two of tech’s largest players: Google and Facebook.
Gallery view is one of the features Zoom customers said they liked in our survey. Seeing everyone during group calls is nice, especially during a quarantine. However, that is no longer a differentiator for Zoom.
On the heels of Zoom’s meteoric growth, Google announced Meet (the successor to Hangouts) would be free. Just days prior, they also released a copy of one of the key things people like about Zoom, tile mode: gallery view.
Similarly, Facebook released Messenger Rooms. It, too, has a gallery-like view.
So, can Zoom keep its position on top?
Zoom should be worried about its product/market fit
To determine a product/market fit score, the first question in our survey asks “How would you feel if you could no longer use Zoom?”
- Very disappointed.
- Somewhat disappointed.
- Not disappointed.
Sean Ellis asked this same question to about 150 companies. He found that companies with a strong product/ market fit will see 40% or more of their customers say they would be “very disappointed” to lose access to the product.
From our survey, only 38% of people said they would be “very disappointed” to lose Zoom. That’s not a strong product market fit. For comparison, over 70% of people say they would be disappointed to lose access to Google Analytics.
Zoom only delivers the basics
Survey respondents said they like Zoom for the following reasons:
- Quick and easy to host a meeting.
- It just works/reliable/stable.
- Better quality than Hangouts/quality audio and video.
- Moderation controls.
- Gallery view and integrated chat.
The top three reasons are because Zoom actually delivers on the basic functionality of video conferencing. After that, the reasons are also pretty basic features.
Zoom’s leadership position is precarious because it’s very likely that tech behemoths like Google and Facebook will deliver reliable audio and video. In fact, they are ramping up investment now, so it might not take long.
And, while people like the ease of use and quality audio and video from Zoom, they still feel like it needs more work. Here are some of the responses we saw:
“The video quality is not always that great. Even when using higher quality cameras and equipment.”
“Make audio work even better. Foolproof.”
Zoom needs to improve its security, duh, and user experience
Zoom’s real challenges become apparent when we focus on what people dislike about Zoom. Just over half of our respondents said they would only be “somewhat disappointed” to lose access to Zoom. That’s a large amount of customers to be on the fence about a product. One third of those people said the top improvement area is security and privacy. Since our survey came out, Zoom has made some improvements to address these concerns.
It’s not surprising to see that Facebook made security and privacy a core part of their announcement for Messenger Rooms. Similarly, Google’s announcement to make Meet freely available also outlined 9 key reasons they are secure and private.
Zoom’s next largest area for improvement is their UX/UI. Zoom is considered easier to use than some alternatives, but people still find it quite clunky. Some of these quotes exemplify the concern:
“Better design/UX? They seem to have mostly nailed the technology side as far as maintaining well-synced audio, high quality video, low latency. Their design and UX is generally pretty clunky though.”
“The UI/UX feels a bit clunky and outdated. While the “bones” of Zoom are really solid (reliable connection, consistent quality, no noticeable down time), it feels a bit outdated from a UI perspective.”
“Anything that helps first time users figure out their audio/video settings, do that.”
Since our Upfocus survey was conducted, Zoom has been making UX/UI improvements. Time will tell if they have gone far enough to please consumer customers.
Facebook emphasized multiple times in their Messenger Rooms announcement how easy it is to use. No meetings to create. No additional software to download. It has integrated chat. And, you’re already connected with family and friends on their platform.
If you visit Zoom’s website, all of the content is focused on business use cases. This makes all of the consumer customers they picked up vulnerable to competition.
Facebook, by contrast, is already focusing on the consumer side of the experience by offering AR effects like bunny ears, and new AI-powered features like immersive 360 backgrounds and mood lighting. People want more than video, they want shared experiences.
Survey respondents said they want Zoom to offer more shared experience features like:
To be fair, Zoom customers could use Snap Camera to add AR effects to their Zoom calls. But, it’s a missing element in their native experience.
One fun element that Zoom has released since our Upfocus survey is the ability to add a background. Zoom backgrounds give customers a fun opportunity to express themselves.
Google and Microsoft are a threat because they deeply integrate with core business apps
While Facebook is flanking Zoom on the consumer side, Google Meet is coming for its business users. This means Zoom will either be fighting two battles or will have to focus on one. Survey respondents offer a bit of a backhanded compliment to how easy Zoom is to use. Here’s how they put it:
“Generally easy installation for those not particularly tech savvy.”
“…It is a great product. Initially I had to figure out how to invite others to the meeting as that was not intuitive…”
Translation: it’s less sucky, but still needs work. Google is trying to make it easier for business users to host meetings, especially it’s Google Suite users.
Meet’s integration with Google Calendar makes it button push easy to add chat. In fact, it can be added automatically, so no thought is even required. If Google can continue to improve their audio and video quality, then their integrations will allow them to capture market share from Zoom.
Microsoft Teams is built around, well, teams
Up until now, we’ve mostly focused on Google and Facebook. However, on the enterprise business front, Zoom is also competing with Microsoft. Microsoft Teams has deeply integrated video into Outlook and chat. And, since Teams are literally the list of coworkers on a team, invites are super easy. Grouping files, messages, and more is much easier since Microsoft knows your coworker contact list groups.
Zoom customers can get around some of the lack of native integrations through plugins. It will be interesting to learn over time whether those plugins are too much friction vs. the attractiveness of the native integrations.
Zoom can stay on top by delivering shared experiences
Zoom is still in a leadership position, so here are some things they can do to stay in front. The most obvious is to improve their security and privacy as well as their UI/UX. But, really, that’s just clean up work. To improve the attractiveness of their product (and create a moat around their newly acquired customers), Zoom could elevate their solution from a “video conferencing app” to becoming a “shared experience space”. The big opportunity to differentiate from all other video apps is to recognize that people use video simultaneously with other activities. Getting the simultaneous part right is a huge opportunity.
Enable shared experiences around games, movies, and music
If users could do these activities simultaneously without having to use multiple devices or overlapping, delayed audio; it would be a compelling feature that would drive extended usage. Here are some responses from Zoom users requesting shared experiences:
“and (at least in these quarantine times) a feature that allows you to watch a movie together via screenshare while still being able to talk with each other.”
“…inter connected to Smart TV (might already be)…”
“…game interaction through zoom…”
Another way people will experiment with shared experiences is within virtual environments. Recently, Viviane Schwarz tweeted that she and her editorial team think Zoom sucks and are having meetings around the campfire in Red Dead Redemption 2. Viviane’s series of tweets were covered by numerous publications, which indicates that people resonated with the idea of mixing fun with business.
Consumers also will explore shared experiences in virtual environments. One commonly suggested idea was the ability to watch movies and TV together. XRSpace is offering such an experience by allowing users to watch a movie together in a virtual cinema.
Zoom could also improve their experience for power users. Here are 3 key things we learned from their users:
Make breakout rooms easier to use
People really like this feature and not all video chat services offer breakout rooms, but our surveyed users said it is not intuitive. In my personal experience, many times I mention it on Zoom calls, people weren’t aware of the option, or they heard of it, but didn’t know how to use it.
Moderators want more options
For example, survey respondents said they want to be able to disable all virtual backgrounds at once. They want to be able to mute people by groups. Hosts are the power users. They drive the group interactions. Focusing on their needs, will lead to other people using the product who aren’t power users. Keeping hosts happy = moat around the business.
More options for arranging elements on the screen
People like the gallery view, which is why both Google and Facebook are copying it. But, people want more options for arranging the order and size of the feeds. Also, people like Zoom’s integrated chat and screen sharing. And, they want to be able to see feeds, shared screens, and chat all at the same time.
Powered by Upfocus!
To gather these insights, we ran a product/market fit survey with actual Zoom users via our Upfocus software.
After we captured the responses, we were able to use our software to extract feedback themes and to capture observations to make sense of the results.
If you’d like to learn more about the approach, contact us.