The 22nd of March, 2020 sounds like an ordinary date but it is absolutely the opposite. The 22nd day of March 2020 marks the first Janata Curfew where we all stayed home all day long only to come out into our balconies at 5pm sharp to clap our hands and beat our utensils as a gesture of gratitude towards all the frontline workers, who were working to ensure our safety and the containment of the freshly brewed pandemic which came to be known as COVID-19 to us all.
It was the first time we saw absolutely empty roads and pin-drop silence in cities where life refused to stop irrespective of the numbers on the clock. A tiny bit of surprise set in when the absolute lockdown was announced by the Centre.
However, it still seemed like an exciting endeavor. The prospect of staying home, doing absolutely nothing and all exams getting postponed sounded like a dream and it truly was for most of us.
Five whole months of confinement saw us returning to education and our jobs via digital platforms, the most commonly used of which was Zoom. Life went on through screens with our education and jobs transgressing through our phones, laptops and computers.
Everything was smooth-sailing till now. A year and a half after, Zoom came to the conclusion of introducing a paid format of their platform alongside advertisements on the free version.
What Is Happening?
All of us who still haven’t been able to return to offline life yet are definitely dependent on Zoom for our meetings, classes, conferences, etc. to commence. Zoom is one of the smoothest platforms to host meetings on with the options of having a personalized profile, pre-scheduled meetings and an extremely user friendly interface in general.
Zoom has decided to launch a paid version of their platform and conduct a pilot program to show banner adverts at the conclusion of meetings to its free users. These adverts will appear only for the free users of the Basic version in certain countries, though they still have not specified which ones.
However, based on their blog post one can assume that these adverts might migrate to other areas of the meetings as well. “For this initial program, adverts will be rolled out only on the browser page users see once they end their meeting,” explains the company.
Zoom’s marketing officer Janine Pelosi explains that the move will help Zoom to continue to deliver a free experience:
“We are incredibly proud to provide a service that helps so many people around the world stay connected. This change ensures that our free Basic users are able to continue connecting with friends, family, and colleagues with the same robust platform we have always offered.”
They have also confirmed that Zoom “will not use meeting, webinar, or messaging content (specifically, audio, video, files, and messages) for any marketing, promotions, or third-party advertising purposes.”
While the plans have not been set in stone yet, anyone who wants to enjoy their video conferences ad free should get ready to pay quite a considerable amount or switch to a rival platform like Google Meet or Microsoft Teams.
In terms of plan pricing, Zoom Meetings Pro that lets users host up to 100 participants along with unlimited group meetings is available at Rs. 1,300 a month, while Zoom Business that brings features including up to 300 participant limit and cloud recording transcripts is provided at a monthly charge of Rs. 1,800.
Is The Decision Justified?
It is extremely fair to say that Zoom has been a saviour to many of us especially during the pandemic when it became a household name overnight and a verb in its right. All of a sudden “zoom” did not mean “going at a fast pace” but rather a video meeting.
While the free tier is basic, it is still generous enough. Free calls for 2 people are capped at 30 hours, not a bad deal when you consider that some providers have a one hour limit. Introducing another person reduces the cut off to 40 minutes, but even then you can simply reconnect again straight away.
It’s perhaps not surprising then that Zoom would look to increase its revenue from its huge 300 million user base, as with vaccinations on the rise and the return to the offices and schools underway, Zoom shares are already down 50% from their highest value.
The company has had a fairytale couple of years, but with increased competition and offices opening back up, it’s not looking quite as dominant as it once did.
What Should You Do?
If the prospect of adverts horrifies you, then you should definitely be aware of all your options. Zoom’s Basic program which is free is definitely a good and viable option but if you are looking for more than just catching up with friends on the weekends or talking to parents, then an upgrade is definitely recommended.
Zoom’s paid-for tier Zoom Meetings Pro starts at Rs.1300 every month and allows for meetings of more than two people, and up to 100, without that 40-minute time limit. In fact, it gives you 30 hours. You’ll also benefit from support with live chat, as well as analytical reporting and social media streaming.
Beyond that, there’s Zoom Meetings Business, which provides for up to 300 participants, with cloud recording, branded meetings and an admin portal, and starts at Rs.1800 every month.
Then there’s even Zoom Meetings Enterprise, which extends the invite list to a huge 500 participants, offers unlimited cloud storage, as well as a dedicated Customer Success Manager. This is priced at Rs. 1800/license, but users must sign up for at least 100 licenses.
If all of these options sound unappealing then you could do what most of us are probably going to, you can just shift your daily meetings, conferences, classes, lectures, etc. onto Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, etc. and call it a day.
Image Sources: Google Images
Meet The Blogger: Charlotte
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