Video conferencing platforms have become hugely important all over the world in these times of lockdown. Zoom is one of the most used platforms. Even though it has struggled with some security issues, it has still outperformed the Microsoft and Google platforms. But the California-based company is now facing new challenges from two Chinese conferencing platforms.
DingTalk and VooV have both gone global with their platforms, after they’ve enjoyed success across Asia. This is partly due to the fact that Beijing temporarily blocked the international version of Zoom in September, which opened the market to local companies. So now, the rivalry between Chinese and U.S. tech companies has expanded into the area of video conferencing.
Before the pandemic, working from home was not really a thing that was done in China. Less than one percent of Chinese teleworked. But when people were forced to work from home because of Covid-19, there were more than 300 million people working remotely.
Alibaba announced that its video conferencing platform DingTalk is used by 120 million students and 10 million businesses in China. Since the pandemic, the company has increased the maximum number of attendees to a video conference to over 300. The international app DingTalk Lite was launched in the Asian market in April; it was rolled out in Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The app is available in Japanese, Traditional Chinese, and English.
DingTalk was in the top 10 of the most downloaded apps in the first quarter of this year, according to data analytics company App Annie. Zoom was still number one, and is used by 300 million people every day.
Two weeks before Alibaba launched its international app, the Chinese company Tencent also made its video conferencing tool available overseas. VooV is the international version of Tencent Meeting, which was launched in December 2019. It is now available in several countries including India, Japan, and Singapore.
But they don’t want to stop there. When VooV was launched, the company’s vice-president said that “[a]s we move forward, we plan to roll out the service across the world, in compliance with local regulations”.
Zoom Restricted in China
A Zoom spokesperson told the BBC that “in mainland China, new user registration is currently limited to enterprise customers who sign up through authorized sales representatives. Free users in mainland China may continue to join meetings hosted by registered customers”. So it is obvious that China is doing all that it can to promote its own businesses over a foreign company.
Effect on the Market
You need to be aware of what a platform’s initial purpose is. Zoom was created to be used within companies, which is one of the main reason they’ve struggled so much. The platform wasn’t originally designed to be used by this many people. Another important fact to be aware of is that Zoom does not earn money from advertising or collecting data.
Alibaba and Tencent, the owners of DingTalk and VooV respectively, all run on businesses that fully rely on advertising and data collection. So be aware of that if you decide to use their platforms. The Chinese government will always be able to monitor a company’s data.
But the American big tech companies are not backing down either. Facebook is in the process of rolling out Messenger Rooms across all of its platforms. And Google has made Google Meet available for free. Microsoft teams is still growing as well. All of these companies want to keep their users on their platforms, so that they can strengthen all their existing operations. On which they, of course, collect data to earn money.
The global market value of video conferencing technology, which was $6 billion last year, is expected to reach $16 billion by 2030. So you can imagine that other companies are not just going to let someone else walk away with all of the cash.