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Go Big or Go Home: Zoom Does Both
Zoom announced today that its Zoom for Home initiative was expanding to several consumer smart displays, including the Amazon Echo Show, Portal from Facebook, and Google Next Hub Max. This builds on last month’s announcement on the Zoom all-in-one appliance, which lets people run Zoom on a wide range of devices that they may already have in their homes. Zoom on Facebook Portal will be available in September, with the other devices coming by the end of the year, according to Zoom.
When Zoom announced its Zoom for Home – DTEN ME, some people were skeptical, saying not everyone would want to buy another device just to run Zoom – and those people are correct. The Zoom appliance certainly isn’t for everyone, and today’s announcement addresses the consumers that have already purchased a smart display for other purposes. This creates flexibility for people to use Zoom on the device they feel most comfortable with.
For example, during the day, a person working from home will likely choose to use Zoom on their computer for collaboration with co-workers. During the evening, that same person might find it easier to do a family Zoom call with their siblings using the Facebook Portal, instead of everyone having to crowd around a laptop screen.
This is an interesting pivot for Zoom and shows that CEO Eric Yuan and the company understand the long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company spent the better part of the last couple of years working with hardware partners such as Poly, Logitech, and Neat to make it easier to deploy Zoom Rooms. All this energy was to outfit corporate offices with Zoom compatible equipment to make it easier for people to “Zoom” each other at their desks or in huddle rooms. The pandemic has changed things for the foreseeable future where people won’t be going back to the office, making it difficult to sell equipment designed for offices.
Gartner stated 47% of companies say they intend to allow employees to work remotely full-time going forward, Zoom cited in the press release. Similarly, the data from my recent Work From Anywhere Study showed the number of remote workers pre-pandemic was about 22% of the working population and is expected to nearly double to 42% post-pandemic. I’m not sure we really even need the data points. Anecdotally, almost every business leader I talk to is acknowledging work from home is here to stay for some time.
Zoom needed to shift its strategy away from conference rooms to living rooms, and that’s what this announcement is designed to do. Zoom should now appeal to a broader set of workers, as they can now use Zoom for Home to work more efficiently as well as use the system to connect with friends. With integration into consumer devices, Zoom users can extend integrated calendar and HD video and audio for Zoom Meetings onto these displays.
Each consumer platform varies slightly, and specific details of each platform are as follows:
- Zoom on Facebook Portal allows users to one-touch join Zoom meetings and perform digital whiteboarding. Also, Portal’s Smart Camera automatically keeps people in frame for better call quality.
- Zoom on Echo Show gives Alexa customers the ability to join Zoom video calls from Echo Show devices. With Zoom on Echo Show, users can access meetings by saying, “Alexa, join my Zoom meeting.” If the calendar is linked in the Alexa app, Alexa will automatically start scheduled meetings entirely hands-free without needing to know the meeting ID or passcode.
- Zoom on Google Nest Hub Max extends the capabilities of native high-quality Zoom video meetings onto the device. Fully integrated with Google Calendar and Google Assistant, users will be able to enjoy hands-free controls with commands such as “Hey Google, join my next meeting.” Zoom is scheduled to come to all Assistant-enabled Smart Displays, including Nest Hub Max.
The pandemic has taken Zoom from being a niche video player to a mainstream tool, so widely used that the name “Zoom” is now being used as a verb as more people are “Zooming” each other. The integration with the consumer platforms will allow people that use Zoom to use it more often and in more ways, making it an even bigger part of their everyday life.