Business / Tech

How did video calling apps cope during lockdown?

Below, we look at how Zoom, Cisco Webex, Google Hangouts, and Microsoft Teams handled the lockdown.

We are all aware of the recent rise in popularity with video calling apps. The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown have changed the way we communicate with loved ones, colleagues, and clients. However, this rise in users was sudden and unpredicted.

A recent study has revealed just how some of the most popular video calling providers coped with the surge of user demand; click here for more. As more government restrictions were put in place, and a large percentage of us began working from home, the use of video calling became more popular than ever.

Below, we look at how Zoom, Cisco Webex, Google Hangouts, and Microsoft Teams handled this. Just under 30,000 app store reviews were analyzed for the months January-July 2020 and compared with the same performance in 2019 to see how COVID-19 was impacting the sector.

Cisco Webex

Back in March, WHO announced COVID-19, a worldwide pandemic, schools, and universities were shut, and Cisco Webex teamed up with IBM to provide their software to over 24,000 schools throughout the UK to help continue distance learning.

April of 2020 revealed a total of 465 new user reviews, compared with a few months before, in February, this was a significant rise from just 289. April of 2019 reported just 337 new user reviews.

While this can be seen as a positive for the brand, the sudden spike in users led to technical issues as internal servers struggled to keep up with demand. Frequent dropouts led to an average star rating of just 3.0 out of a possible 5.

Educators and their students become increasingly frustrated with the software and are left struggling to complete lessons and continue the syllabus while social distancing.

Google Hangouts

Google’s video conferencing software was one of the first to adapt to allow large businesses to continue communicating, with up to 250 participants in a call and 100,000 viewers in a live streaming session.

Universities quickly saw the benefits of this and began streaming lectures all around the world using Google Hangouts.

Google was the only provider not to experience large technical issues and customer dissatisfaction; they finished the study, 4.21 stars out of a possible 5.

Google is one of the most well-known and established companies globally; this means they have the resources to hire the best minds behind their products.

It is most likely that Google overcompensated with its servers and other technologies always to be prepared for any eventuality.

lockdown COVID-19 video calling Zoom

Zoom

Zoom has always been a popular choice for video calling software, and this has been no exception in 2020. March of this year revealed 1,755 new user reviews with a huge jump to 2,533 in April as the lockdown was implemented, the peak of new users during the pandemic.

In comparison, April 2019 saw review numbers at just 221.

However, this rise in demand became too much of a temptation to hackers, and Zoom fell victim to a security breach in June. This was widely covered throughout the press and led to negative PR for the provider.

Zoom experienced internal server issues, alongside other technical difficulties, causing their average rating to fall to a low 3.72 out of 5, compared to 4.21 in the same period of 2019.

Microsoft Teams

The latest addition to the study sector, Microsoft Teams, saw a rise in users and an increase in technical issues, perhaps due to lack of experience. The sudden rise of 931 new user reviews in March 2020 to 1,244 in June 2020 showed demand for services and an escalated number of unsatisfied users.

Even with MS offering the benefit of up to 10,000 users within a call, the public was not satisfied. The app faced huge struggles as demand increased at a large rate. Frequent connection problems and login issues led to users rating Microsoft Teams a rather poor 2.23 out of 5.

Perhaps this could be down to lack of experience within the sector and the organization unprepared for such large numbers of users; it seems the software is still experiencing some teething problems.

The Results

So, which app came out on top, and which one failed to meet expectations during a lockdown?

Zoom was crowned the winner, despite technical difficulties, bad PR, and falling star ratings throughout the summer months, new user reviews increased by a whopping 474% growth.

It was the newest addition to the video calling sector, Microsoft Teams, who suffered the most during the pandemic. With a weak 2.56 stars at the end of the study and a small growth of just 15%, it appears Microsoft still has a long way to go to convince users to switch to their services.

Which video calling apps did you use during the lockdown? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook. You can also comment on our MeWe page by joining the MeWe social network.

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