All your friends are using Zoom, the video-chat app that is suddenly dominating competition from Google and Microsoft

zoom meeting computer

Zoom

  • Zoom, a teleconferencing application typically used by businesses, has become the hot new way for people to connect while social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Zoom has seemingly replaced services like Google Hangouts and Microsoft's Skype as most people's go-to platform for video calls.
  • "We have seen a large increase in the number of free users, meeting minutes, and new video use cases," CEO Eric Yuan said in the company's most recent investor call.
  • Zoom is the world's 2nd most downloaded mobile app, behind only TikTok, according to app-analytics firm Sensor Tower.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Are you using Zoom yet?

Chances are, if you're one of the tens of millions of people currently working from home or out of school due to the coronavirus pandemic, you've quickly become familiar with the teleconferencing software.Advertisement

But beyond being a productivity tool, Zoom has become a place where friends are organizing virtual happy hours and where families are staying in touch as the coronavirus pandemic keeps us all separated and indoors.

Whatever the case may be, Zoom is suddenly everywhere.

Get the latest coronavirus analysis and research from Business Insider Intelligence on how COVID-19 is impacting businesses.

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It's not just you: The company said it's seen explosive growth in the past few weeks.

It's not just you: The company said it's seen explosive growth in the past few weeks.

Zoom Video Communications, the California-based company behind the Zoom app, isn't sharing users numbers.

The closest we've got is a statement from CEO Eric Yuan on the company's most recent investor call. "We have seen a large increase in the number of free users, meeting minutes and new video use cases," Yuan said.

A Zoom public relations representative, Farshad Hashmatulla, added, "We believe every business has the social responsibility to contribute back to the community and to society, and it's critically important during times of crisis. With this tenet in mind, Zoom is doing everything we can to provide resources and support to those navigating the coronavirus outbreak."

But even without Zoom providing numbers, there are some pretty stark metrics showing just how big Zoom has become in a relatively short period of time.

Clear evidence of Zoom's rise: The Zoom app is dominating the charts for both iPhone and Android users.

Clear evidence of Zoom's rise: The Zoom app is dominating the charts for both iPhone and Android users.

The most clear evidence that Zoom is doing well is its position atop both the iPhone and Android top-downloaded apps charts.

It's so popular on mobile that it's 2nd only to TikTok as the world's most downloaded app across the last week. During that period, Zoom added "close to 20 million new mobile users," according to data provided by mobile data analytics firm Sensor Tower.

And many of those downloads were first time users: "Globally, first-time installs of Zoom's mobile app increased 213% last week compared to the preceding week of March 9, and 728% compared to the week of March 2," Sensor Tower's Head of Mobile Insights Randy Nelson told Business Insider.

"Zoom's mobile app was installed about 3.7 times more than Skype's and 8.6 times more than Google Hangouts," he said.

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Why are people using Zoom? That's less clear, but there are some obvious upsides to Zoom over its competition from Microsoft's Skype and Google's Hangouts.

Why are people using Zoom? That's less clear, but there are some obvious upsides to Zoom over its competition from Microsoft's Skype and Google's Hangouts.

Whether you're talking to friends or your teacher or your boss, it never hurts to look your best.

To that end, Zoom has a built-in beautification filter, which is one of several relatively silly little details about the service that help it stand out.

Zoom's virtual backgrounds are another crucial detail: You can swap out whatever is behind you in the video for, say, the Milky Way galaxy, or the top of the Burj Khalifa, or the interview area from "The Office."

But more important than any of that stuff, according to the users I spoke with, is functionality.

"I prefer the [user experience] and find call quality consistently better," one user who operates a small business said. "You can record the meeting," another user pointed out.

An associate who works in video game development said, "You can stream much higher quality video via Zoom than Hangouts. Trying to view a video clip (or live gameplay) over Hangouts was impossible. Zoom is much higher quality than Hangouts by a long shot."

It's easy to see why this stuff — better call quality, the ability to record meetings, and being able to share high-quality video over that call — help to set Zoom apart from the competition.