It has been almost sixty-five days since we are locked in our houses. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has made a significant impact on our social and economic life. We human beings are inherently social creatures. We are not solitary; we thrive in the presence of other people, but due to this pandemic crisis, we are not able to interact with people in person, attend social gatherings (Parties, Fests, Summits, etc.), spend time with friends and relatives, etc.
Most of the students have their schools, colleges and universities closed. Final year and Pre-final year students enrolled in different courses are finding difficulties in getting placements and internships. Many government offices, public and private companies are closed, and hence employees working in these companies are facing a financial crisis.
What can be a potential solution to these problems? Video conferencing can be one of the potential solutions to these problems. People can talk to their friends, relatives, and dear ones through video conferencing. Meetings and classes can be arranged on video conferencing. That’s why video conferencing apps became very popular in the lockdown, especially in the field of imparting education and holding government, corporate, and other official meetings.
Most of the video conferencing apps before lockdown had both free and paid subscriptions. The free version could be used for very little time, and decidedly fewer people could join a call. So due to the lockdown, people started to prefer those video conferencing apps, which provided more time and in which more people could join. Zoom turned out to be the app that most of the people found cheap and easy to use, and hence it was the most downloaded app during the lockdown.
In the ten days between 1 March and 11 March, when work-from-home arrangements to check Covid-19 were just beginning to kick in, there were 1.25 lakh Zoom downloads in India. The number of downloads skyrocketed after 18 March, as between 18 March and 5 April, there was a complete lockdown, and during this period, there were 1.26 Crore Zoom Downloads.
Although Zoom is cheapest and easy to use, it has a limitation. Zoom's ease of use makes it easy for troublemakers to "bomb" open Zoom meetings. Information-security professionals say that Zoom's security has a lot of holes. There's also been scrutiny of Zoom's privacy policies, which until recently seemed to give Zoom the right to do whatever it wanted with the user’s data and its encryption policies, which have been more than a tad misleading.
It has caused users to turn to other video conferencing apps such as Cisco Webex, Google Meet, Skype, Microsoft Teams, etc. Compared to Zoom, these apps are more reliable and secure. Google has also started to attract the public as it has made Google Meet free for everyone. In a similar way, other apps have also begun giving offers on their subscriptions. And ever since Zoom is found breaching privacy issues, these apps have started to gain attention.
Video conferencing has gained very much popularity in this lockdown. It has also attracted the technology giant Facebook. In a bid to counter the rising demand of Zoom, Facebook has released a new feature that allows us to video chat with multiple people through Messenger even if we do not have a social media account. Facebook-owned Whatsapp has also expanded group calls so that we can voice or video call up to eight people.
In the end, we can conclude by saying that the usage of video conferencing apps has grown exponentially in this lockdown. Video conferencing has also attracted many software giants to invest in it. It will be interesting to see how this industry pans out after the end of the pandemic.