The newly launched Zoom Video Communications hit the waves last Tuesday and received a rave review from WSJ’s Walt Mossberg. In his AllThingsD review of Zoom, Mossberg was wowed by Zoom’s “free, high-definition, group video calls for up to 15 people simultaneously,” its ability to work over “wired and WiFi Internet connections, or cellular 3G and 4G networks,” and its “sharp and smooth” video quality. He also approved of the text chat and screen sharing features.
I also gave it a whirl. And I like it a lot. The product is simple, the video quality is good, and it has basic screen sharing. It also supports mobile devices – a big plus!
I was relieved, however, to discover that VSee video performance has a huge advantage compared to Zoom for group conferencing or when the network is not fast (like DSL, WiFi, 3G, etc, similar to the VSee advantage over Skype).
Zoom also made some less appealing design decisions like its voice activated switching. This can get very annoying since often we don’t want to see the speaker, but a particular audience member. Zoom also does not offer any security, and its screen sharing does not allow remote control or annotation. I should mention, this is a bit of an unfair comparison since Zoom is a consumer app, while VSee is designed for work. Overall, I have to agree with Mossberg – Zoom did a great job!!
Zoom is founded by former WebEx/Cisco VP of Engineering Eric Yuan. Eric did a superman job growing WebEx from 10 to 800 engineers. Eric was also an investor and advisor to Tango. Additional web searches suggest that their engineering team is in China, and they wrote their version of H.264 SVC, like Vidyo.
It will be interesting to see how Zoom pivots in its future. Will it go after Vidyo or Tango? Will it become a plugin for social networks or something else? Right now it is neither consumer enough nor enterprise enough – and that tends to be the Death Valley for video companies. I’m looking forward to seeing their next steps 🙂