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Lockdown & Video Calling

Updated: Jun 8, 2020

One thing that has not only helped communication both in business and personal life, but has also become all encompassing, is video calling.

It is, by no means, a new thing but under the Covid-19 pandemic it has blossomed into being the most used communication tool. No longer satisfied with a quick text or the traditional phone call, now a video call is a must.

It shows how social human beings are in nature. Before, our busy lives meant a quick text to the siblings or far away friends and a forced, rushed phone call with the parents once a week but now we're deprived of actual face to face time, we have been driven to compulsory video calling in our innate need to see each other. I'm not a psychologist so couldn't authoritatively comment about whether that comes from our natural socialising instincts of interpreting facial expressions, body language and eye movement. It's an interesting point though, isn't it?

Even in business, we have meetings for the sake of having meetings - it's nice to catch up - but we also hide behind emails and phone calls. Now, the video conference is a must. Daily video scrums, check ins and client meetings. Pre-lockdown, those video conferences would be filled with avatars in circles as the majority switched off their cameras. A thing of the past. Everyone's mug is now displayed in all its no-make up, unbrushed, close up glory. And we delight in it.

It also appeals to our voyeuristic curiosities to see inside someone's home, albeit one room and from a particular angle and that's if they haven't changed their background to the Golden Gate Bridge.

The most interesting side of this video calling is not this new dependency on the medium, or that it has taken off in every home, including in the homes of self-proclaimed technophobes, or even that it is redefining priorities and ways of working (although that is interesting too - we'll look at that in later blog). No, the most interesting side of it is that neither Google nor Skype have seemingly taken advantage.

Where are they? Why have they been so slow to react? They already had the software, being used both personally and for business. They had the information, perceived security and the connections so in time when they could come out on top and showcase their software support of modern and present-day life, what happened? why did they not go full throttle with advertising, offers and promotion?

A friend suggested that they are still being used so could just be contented with the customers they already have but does that sit well? Could Google HQ be happy to rest on their laurels and let other people take over when data is king? They already have a company built network to access new customers in their ads platform and one of the most powerful companies in the world isn't going to take advantage of that?

Even Microsoft made a quick turnaround to promote Teams, despite its bad reputation, and it is working. People's attitude to Teams is now changing - it's gone from "this is so frustrating, it doesn't do everything I want" to "it's pretty good actually, especially now, it's keeping the team together". Zoom, Whereby and even Facebook Portal are getting in on the act. And it's not just for now. It's for after. If you've already downloaded Zoom, rolled it out to all your staff and it got you through the hard times of a national pandemic shutdown, your clients are familiar with it and happily using it, are you going to upheave that and replace it with something else or indeed your "old system"?

Zoom's stock price has jumped 11% after it announced its daily users had surpassed 300 million. That's an increase of 100 million users since its last update at the beginning of April. In December 2019, they were at 10 million users. Microsoft has also reported that actively daily Teams users has hit 75 million, adding 31 million in just over a month. Slack, too, is reporting all-time user records daily. Where are Google and Skype?

Have Google Hangouts and Skype missed a trick? Is it too late for them, now? Time will tell.

Have another theory? Loyal to Skype or Hangouts? Or swear by another video conferencing app? Let us know in the comments.

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