Making money via video conferencing

Tuesday August 04 2020
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The Zoom platform is free for video conferences of up to 100 participants, with a 40-minute time limit. For longer or larger conferences with more features, paid subscriptions are available. PHOTO/KELVIN ATUHAIRE

The dark time for the world did us well, putting optimum use to Zoom meetings. This saved resources and enabled the execution of duties.

The Zoom application has been gaining popularity since 2014 and garnered more clicks during the lockdown due to the need to accommodate meetings while working remotely. Other players in the game that include Microsoft Teams, Skype, Webex and Google Meet presented challenges that Zoom could solve easily.

Skype could not accommodate many people at the same time. Either one had to subscribe or go through three or more steps to make the call.

Noah Baalessanvu, head of Technology at Savannah, reveals, one needed a Gsuite, or corporate subscription to Google. This was required to be able to use it for a multi-party call which was a barrier to many. Currently, the requirement is off the hook because they were losing a market share.

“Zoom started out with a very easy interface; one has to click on the link and automatically get on a call. It was a one or two step process as compared to a five or six step process of all the other platforms. It has over 32 million daily active users.”

www.businessinsider.com outlines, Zoom, an American founded technology, as a cloud based video communications app that allows you to set up virtual video and audio conferencing, webinars, live chats, screen sharing and other collaborative capabilities.

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Just like one has a Twitter account, it is the same way for one to have a zoom account. The difference is Zoom is paid for. A basic user profile, which is unlicensed, offers ordinary with calls limited to 40 minutes well as a paid profile, that is licensed, can accommodate up to 100 people and calls are limited. For the latter, the individuals use bank user cards to pay for zoom.

What it takes
“Zoom was a small company two or three years ago when the world was controlled by Skype. But Zoom was built out on a platform that focused on voice and usability and has indeed capitalised on this whole Covid-19 situation to grow and raise a lot of money. These technologies are accessible and the only limit perhaps is people’s imagination and the desire to innovate,” Luke Kyohere, digital enthusiast and entrepreneur, chief executive officer Beyonic.

Kyohere opines that there are several technologies that go into designing a platform such as Zoom, based on internet for communication and built on publically available protocols like voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) which is a protocol specifically designed for telephone traffic but over the internet. Zoom and other companies relied on VoIP in some form.

However, there are other technologies created that have made it easier like WebRTC, an open framework that enables peer to peer communications in web browsers and mobile applications through application programming interfaces.

In order to operate Zoom, one has to have good architecture to build their infrastructure including how one builds cloud systems that are distributed across different data centers and continents that have redundancy built ins so that if one goes down, the other ones can step in so that calls don’t drop. But also can scale with volume.

However, Remmegious Ssewankambo, senior executive editor at Techjaja hints on identifying an idea to address a problem. Then build the product, which is video conferencing along with a technical team comprising of software developers powering it.

“One has to invest in cloud services that power the App and a good interface that is easy to use as manifested nowadays. Otherwise, it takes a lot of resources to code the application, host, fund and market but if consumers find it easy to use, they will spread the word about it,” Ssewankambo admits.

Depending on how many users one opts to have, it determines how much of the server space or computing power one needs. The resources needed to provide a service to 1,000 users differs from one dealing with a million users.

The more the application grows, the more features come on board hence the more resources and people are part of the equation.

How it makes money
Zoom makes money from subscriptions. Baalessanvu explains, there is a business model called freemium. Where one offers something for free and have many people subscribed to the platform, these tend to want extra features.

These features are embedded in the paid for version to accommodate the taste and preference of the clients like recordings of the sessions, sharing on social media accounts, number of people or even sharing the link to having unlimited time. The paid for version is licensed while the unlicensed is free for only 40 minutes.

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