Zooming out: the explosion of video apps vying for screentime

World

Zooming out: the explosion of video apps vying for screentime

Zoom’s shortcomings are becoming clear and other start-ups are filling the gaps

James Titcomb

When Arthur Wu worked at the data mining company Palantir, he spent years flying across the US so that his team, dotted around the country, could meet up in person. The jaunts came at great expense, both financial and social, and Wu had all the digital tools such as Slack and Zoom meant to cut down on such meetings. But he and his staff did them anyway.

“Being there in person just felt key to building a genuine relationship. They were the moments when we felt the most comfortable,” he says. It is an experience that many would relate to. As the coronavirus pandemic has kept workers away from their offices and colleagues, face-to-face interactions have been replaced by video screens. Last week, Zoom – which has become a vital resource for meetings, job interviews and socialising – reported an explosion in growth that sent its value soaring 40% in one day to $130bn.

But despite its popularity, Zoom has proven no match for real-life interaction. “Zoom fatigue” – the exhaustion of back-to-back meetings – and “Zoom bombing” – in which pranksters invade a meeting, often to share explicit material – entered the pandemic lexicon not long after Zoom itself...

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