Think about it. Yes, you spent hours with your iPhone or Galaxy, played a lot of Fortnite perhaps and you’ll never forget watching “Wonder Woman 1984” or “Soul” on a big screen TV at home for Christmas Day. But if there was any technology you really put in the multiple hours with, well, it was a four letter word, right?
You schooled from home and worked at home, thanks to Zoom – the most downloaded Apple app of the year, and the one that really changed our lives in 2020.
Imagine if the pandemic had happened 20 years ago. What would we have done then? Zoom saved our hides.
“Zoom is the poster child for 2020,” says Dan Ives, an analyst with Wedbush Securities. “Most consumers around the world last year had never even heard of Zoom. Now it’s as essential as food and water.”
That might be a slight exaggeration, but after all the Christmas and Thanksgiving Zoom family get-togethers and everyone planning to return to work next week in, where else, a Zoom meeting, Ives isn’t that far off.
Before 2020, Zoom was a business-to-business application that charged customers $14.95 and up monthly to use the service to connect. There was a free option, but that was little used.
Now, most people use Zoom for free, and the company saw video meeting usage rise from 10 million users to 300 million.
The company expanded into new ways to make money by offering teachers, seminar leaders and others a way to offer their wares directly on Zoom and selling tickets to attend. Zoom takes a cut of the revenue. The new feature is called OnZoom.
Requirements: You’ll need a paid Zoom account to qualify for the tools, which accept payment through the PayPal platform. Users with a paid or free account can watch.
Teachers and performers who sell tickets to their Zoom sessions have usually gone to third-party vendors such as Eventbrite for ticket sales or asked for virtual tip jars at platforms such as PayPal.
What’s new on Zoom:A paid ticketing tool called OnZoom
Where to access Zoom:Zoom meetings come to an Amazon Echo Show device
Classes available on the OnZoom website include classical music lessons, art, photography and exercise.
Zoom became the “it” app out of the pandemic, many say, because it was the simplest to use. After all, other alternatives, such as FaceTime (works only with Apple devices) and Skype (really wonky) have been out there for years.
Rivals pounced. Google’s little-known commerce play, Google Meet, shifted from a paid product to one that’s free and heavily marketed. Users of Gmail, the most popular e-mail program, can set up meetings directly from Gmail. Microsoft looked to expand its Teams program from an enterprise communication platform to one that also did business video meetings.
Zoom became such a part of our daily lives that many people started to get concerned about how they looked in a Zoom call. The images from their low-resolution built-in webcams on the computers looked awful. They sought better webcams, which were sold out for months. Many turned to DIY solutions, such as using a high-resolution iPhone as their webcam or their DSLR or mirrorless camera.
For tips on how to do this, USA TODAY had some ideas.
What happens if the pandemic goes away in 2021 and we return to normal? Does Zoom go away? “No,” says Gene Munster, an analyst and investor with Loup Ventures. He figures that about 100 million people are working remotely and that post-pandemic, 80% will return to the office.
For the other 20%, they’ll still do lots of Zoom calls. “It’s now been accepted as a way of doing business.”
Follow USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter