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Facebook and Google are coming for Zoom

April 30, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

BERLIN, GERMANY - APRIL 24: ??Ksenia Ovsyanick, Principal Dancer??at Staatsballett Berlin starts her zoom meeting to practice at home during the coronavirus crisis on April 24, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. Ballet venues where prima ballerina usually train are closed as part of measures aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Across Germany theatres, museums, cinemas, symphonies, opera halls, ballets and other cultural institutions are struggling to make it through the coronavirus lockdown. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

If there's one company the pandemic has turned into a household name, it's Zoom. Amid the continued state lockdowns, the video conferencing platform has become a lifeline for schools and businesses and a gathering place for virtual cocktail hours, birthday parties, workout classes and even weddings. And that hasn't escaped the notice of some of the world's biggest technology companies, including Facebook and Google.

The two tech giants are now gunning for Zoom by ramping up their own group video apps, raising questions about whether they'll be able to successfully eat Zoom's lunch by leveraging the immense advantages they hold in scale and existing user loyalty.

Facebook last week announced a new service it's calling Messenger Rooms, which doesn't require a Facebook account and allows up to 50 people to meet virtually for as long as they like.

This week, Google said its video conferencing tool for businesses, Google Meet, will now be free to everyone with an email address — allowing up to 100 people to meet for as long as they like.

To measure its success, Zoom (ZM) has turned to a metric known as "daily meeting participants," or the number of people Zoom hosts in meetings during a given day.

Last week, Zoom said it hosted 300 million meeting participants each day, up from 200 million per day in March, suggesting dramatic growth.

Google (GOOG) isn't far behind; last week, according to the company, Google Meet hit 100 million daily meeting participants.

It's early to be getting comparable numbers for Facebook (FB)'s Messenger Rooms, but the company said in its announcement that between WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, 700 million accounts already participate in video calls each day.

"It's more likely that Facebook will be successful than Google," said Laura Martin, an industry analyst at Needham & Co, "based on Google's track record of late entries into other companies' businesses, where its results have been anemic. "

"Unlike a social network, a user doesn't need to spend time replicating their hundreds of friend connections each time they join a new video call service," said Charlotte Slaiman, a competition expert at the consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge.

Geoffrey Manne, a competition expert at the International Center for Law and Economics, said the video conferencing market could easily be defined by several strong players rather than a single, dominant company capitalizing on winner-take-all effects.

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