The world has had to adapt to the pandemic and there is no bigger change than how we are having to communicate with others while remaining safe in our own homes and following social distancing guidelines.
Video calling software has been a favoured choice by many to keep in touch with friends, family, colleagues and clients during this time. 4D-DC recently conducted a study to delve deeper into the usage of video calling apps and how providers have coped during this unprecedented demand.
They looked into the usage of video calling within the UK since the announcement of the pandemic to July of 2020. App reviews were taken from these months and compared with the same months of 2019, the providers were Google Hangouts, Zoom, Cisco Webex and Microsoft Teams.
What Was Found
The most notable find of the study was the correlation between stricter guidelines and lockdown rules and the peak for demand.
With millions of people logging in each day to keep in contact with others, these apps and their servers appear to struggle with the demand and this led to technical difficulties and disgruntled users, read on for more.
Zoom has always been one of the most popular choices when it comes to video calling and its popularity rose even more during lockdown. In March, when the UK public first experienced new guidelines and were encouraged to stay at home, reviews for zoom increased from 1,755 at the beginning of the month to 2,533 in April. Compared to the review counts in 2019 of just 221, this was a huge jump.
With so many people now using this software, sometimes multiple times a day, hackers could not resist the temptation to target Zoom and their servers. This led to a huge security breach and the head of the business having to publicly apologise.
This security breach and negative PR wasn’t the only bad thing Zoom suffered this year. With increasing numbers of users, servers struggled with usage and led to technical problems on more than one occasion. This saw Zoom’s star rating drop significantly to just 3.72 stars out of a possible 5.
IBM teamed up with Cisco Webex in March 2020 to offer their services to school teachers and university lecturers around the country and over 24,000 educators chose them as their provider to continue with distance learning.
Their user reviews almost doubled in April 2020 as increasing numbers of teachers and students logged on. However, it seems they may have bitten off more than they could chew.
With so many new users, Cisco Webex was the next video calling app to struggle with demand. The height of their technical issues was in July, users were often unable to log on, connection related problems to Cisco’s servers were apparent and frustrated teachers turned to reviews to vent their anger. Cisco Webex ended up with a meagre 3.0 star rating out of 5.
Google Hangouts rivalled their competitors at the beginning of lockdown by adapting their services to allow a record number of participants to attend a call. 250 users were allowed to be within one Google Hangouts call and up to 100,000 users could log into a live stream.
Google is one of the largest businesses in the world and it appears their resources were properly utilised to allow the best service to their users as they were the only provider not to report major technical difficulties during 2020.
This led to their star rating of 4.21 out of 5 and users seem very happy with the software. However, users seem less likely to leave reviews overall with their highest reviews numbers in June of just 73.
As the newest video calling software provider in the study, Microsoft Teams needed to make sure they stood out and impressed the market.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. Despite rivalling Google Hangouts with participants of 10,000, it appears the lack of experience and resources left MS Teams as the worst-rated provider at just 2.23 stars out of 5.
With so many users, the app simply couldn’t cope and a myriad of technical issues was reported by a large portion of users, causing them to abandon the app for a competitor.
Even though Zoom experienced a security breach and technical problems, they were still the most popular in the first half of this year with reviews increasing by 474%. As one of the most established providers, it appears the public like to ‘stick with what they know’ and new users seemed to download what their contacts were already using for ease.
It was the latest edition to the industry that struggled the most, Microsoft Teams finished the study with a measly 2.56 stars and growth of just 15%.