July 30, 2020
On Thursday July 23, 2020, Facebook Inc. (“Facebook) announced a new feature for its video chat service called Messenger Rooms. Facebook has now announced that Messenger Rooms, which launched in April 2020 and allows up to 50 participants to video call via a URL link, will now be able to be broadcast live on any Facebook profile, page or group on the platform. While the essential features of Messenger Rooms will remain the same, this integration will allow Messenger Room calls to be broadcast for the purposes of speaker panels, TV show reunions and networking events.
The integration between Messenger Rooms and its more well known social media platform is a move thought to bolster Facebook’s ability to capture more of the video calling market. Video calling services have seen a surge in use over 2020 as governments and employers have limited social interaction and mandated work from home policies to limit the spread of COVID-19. One of the biggest beneficiaries of this trend is Zoom Video Communications Inc. (“Zoom”) whose video conferencing service has become popular among businesses, educational institutions, and social circles confined to virtual meetups. Zoom added 2.22 million active users from the beginning of 2020 to the end of February, a number that exceeded their user growth from all of 2019. This rapid growth of Zoom usage is also reflected in Zoom’s stock, which opened at USD$113.11on March 2 and closed at USD$256.26 USD on July 23rd. Before Facebook’s announcement, Zoom allowed its paying customers to broadcast their video calls on popular livestreaming services including Facebook, YouTube and Twitch.
Facebook’s Messenger Rooms and Zoom are not alone in the video conferencing market. They face stiff competition from other technology companies who also want to capitalize on the surging demand for video calling products. Microsoft’s Teams, Google’s Meet and Cisco’s Webex have all seen a rapid growth in users during this period. Like Facebook, all three of these other services have also recently updated their features to better compete with Zoom. Microsoft Teams has recently introduced support for 49 people on screen which competes with Zoom’s capabilities. Google Meet has announced integration between Google Meet and Gmail, allowing Gmail users to launch a video call through the Gmail app. Cisco Webex introduced virtual backgrounds this month which draws inspiration from the similar virtual backgrounds feature popular on Zoom.
This is yet another example of new fast emerging technology opportunities being created even in the face of the COVID epidemic.
Author: Zhiyao Chen