Zoom takes lead over Microsoft Teams as coronavirus keeps Americans at home

Daily US user volumes rose to a record 4.84 million for Zoom on March 30. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Zoom Video Communications Inc's average user numbers in March were nearly three times that of its nearest rival Microsoft Corp's Teams, according to research firm Apptopia, as the cornonavirus-driven stay-at-home lifted demand for video conferencing platforms.

Daily US user volumes rose to a record 4.84 million on Monday (March 30) for Zoom, as millions of children switched to virtual learning programmes and companies asked employees to work from home to contain the outbreak.

Business-focused Teams was used by 1.56 million users on the same day, while Slack saw less than 500,000 users.

Zoom declined to comment on usage statistics, but its active users in March were 151 per cent higher on average from a year earlier, according to Apptopia.

The company has a huge following among schools and students and it has relaxed norms for schools by lifting its 40-minute meeting limit on free accounts to facilitate online classes.

"First, Zoom's big advantage, as far as software goes, is it's scalable, easy to use, and deployable across multiple devices," said DA Davidson analyst Rishi Jaluria.

"Second, Zoom has a freemium model, which allows companies to dip their toes in the water before committing to a large roll-out, and expansions come easy."

Video conferencing platforms offer video and audio calls, one-to-one meetings, group conferencing, collaboration and productivity apps, and a secure interface.

Slack, Teams and Zoom offer free versions with limited features and tiered pricing for paid ones.

However, an increase in users might not lead to a jump in revenue for Zoom.

"We have definitely seen an uptick in usage, but a lot of that is on the free side," Zoom Chief Financial Officer Kelly Steckelberg had said on a conference call earlier this month.

Shares of Zoom, which debuted last year at US$36 apiece, were trading at US$146 on Tuesday. Its market value has more than doubled since end-January.

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