Zoom Video Communications is doubling the number of people who can participate in a video conference on the company's cloud-based or hybrid collaboration services.
Users of Zoom's free and paid services can now include 50 people in a session, up from 25 previously, a move that founder and CEO Eric Yuan said was done to give customers greater flexibility and to give potential customers another reason to look at Zoom when evaluating their options in the competitive video conferencing space.
"We didn't make major adjustments to our technology to double our standard meeting capacity from 25 to 50 participants," Yuan said in an email to eWEEK. "We built Zoom to be scalable to the needs of our customers, so it was like flipping a switch to add this capacity."
Zoom is one of a growing number of vendors that are offering cloud- and software-based video conferencing solutions to enterprises and smaller businesses that are looking for ways to enhance collaboration between employees, partners and customers, and dealing with an increasingly mobile workforce that is demanding to be able to meet whenever and wherever they want and on any device they're using, from desktop PCs and notebooks to tablets and smartphones.
Established vendors like Cisco Systems, Polycom and Lifesize Communications are all rapidly growing out their cloud- and software-based communications portfolios, while Zoom and other smaller companies—such as Blue Jeans Network and Vidyo—are pushing to expand their presence in the market. According to IDC analysts, that market will continue to grow as businesses rate video conferencing as a priority. However, many are moving away from expensive in-room systems toward other solutions that can satisfy the demand of workers for more mobile solutions and the ability to meet in an ad hoc fashion in small groups when necessary.
IDC analysts have found that "video is still a key component of collaboration and continues to place high on the list of priorities for many organizations," Petr Jirovsky, research manager for IDC's Worldwide Networking Trackers unit, said in a statement last month. "And customers continue to work through determining how best to provision their video deployments, as more software-centric and cloud-based service offerings become part of the enterprise video market landscape."
Zoom also is seeing that interest, with officials saying that the company is closing in on 4 billion meeting minutes being hosted on its service, a push that will be aided by recent announcements that its technology is being integrated into Salesforce's enterprise cloud platform and Slack's real-time messaging and search solution.
"Zoom is all about simplicity, versatility and value," Yuan said. "In terms of simplicity, our service is easy to try, easy to use and easy to buy. Our features are intuitive, and we're integrated with a variety of business solutions, including Slack and Salesforce. As for versatility, our comprehensive, all-in-one service spans SMB to enterprise requirements as well as education and health care applications."
The simplicity is key. Vendors of video conferencing and unified communications (UC) technologies have said that people are less likely to return to a technology if they have difficulty using it or are intimidated by it.
In Zoom's case, its technology can run on everything from mobile devices to conference room systems, either through its H.323/SIP Room Connector or through Zoom Rooms, which can run on Apple Mac and iOS hardware. The technology can support one-on-one meetings, webinars and broadcasts that go out to a maximum of 3,000 participants. It also enables users to record sessions, annotate documents and use its white-boarding technology, Yuan said.
Users also have the option of using the free or paid services, which comes in two plans: Pro for $14.99 a month and Business for $19.99. With the free service, there are unlimited minutes for one-on-one meetings, but once more people are added, there is a 40-minute time limit.
"If you're just meeting with people one-at-at-time, or if you're a small business, you might not care about that," the CEO said. "We're happy to give you our service for free. But if you're a larger organization or host a lot of group meetings, you'll want that paid service so your meetings don't time out."
In addition, those using the paid services get access to such features as Zoom Rooms, the H.323/SIP Room Connector, the hybrid on-premises offering and the ability to customize the service.