And then the teacher says to her ten-year-old student that he should be careful again. The boy wakes up as if someone had scared him, and that’s exactly what happened: The teacher explained that the class had been moved to the virtual classroom because of the coronavirus crisis and is being held via video conference a few hours a day. However, the fifth grader chatted in another window with one of his classmates – he was caught and reprimanded. Welcome to what the ten-year-old calls Zoom School.

Many people have become “zoomers”. However, this is not about this afflicted generation conflict, in which younger people dismiss the often well-intentioned, but sometimes also better-knowledgeable and therefore annoying advice of the baby boomer generation with the saying “Ok, boomer” – and the nickname itself because of the letters Missed “Zoomer”. Reminder: The successors of the boomers are the members of “Generation X” because of the novel of the same name by Douglas Coupland, millennials are “Y” and those between 1995 and 2010 “Z”.


In pajamas to the conference?

So it’s about the video conference app Zoom and its extraordinary popularity during the coronavirus crisis: bosses want to hold a teleconference with as many employees as possible, teachers ask their students into the virtual classroom, friends want to have a beer together, fitness trainer, music Teachers and yoga masters guide their customers. There are, of course, the alternatives of the Silicon Valley top dogs: Hangout (Google) for example, Skype (Microsoft), WhatsApp (Facebook) or FaceTime (Apple). Meanwhile, a winner emerges that hardly anyone has heard of before, and that has something to do with the generation conflict.

A few elements of digital coexistence are being regulated these days, such as whether you are allowed to appear in your pajamas for teleconferencing, whether you have to present your own apartment to colleagues in the background, or whether students have to ask for permission if they are on the virtual one Want to go to the classroom. There is also this joke in California, which is funny because it is meant very seriously: People will look ten years older after the quarantine ends – not because they are so stressed, but because they do not get botox.

All of this leads to the reasons for the immense success of Zoom, which was founded in 2011 by former Cisco manager Eric Yuan and which became a billionaire through the IPO in April 2018. Back then, the company was valued at $ 9.2 billion, and now it’s over $ 35 billion. The price of paper has more than doubled since the beginning of the year – also because the number of users has increased enormously. Zoom therefore issued a warning last Friday that the costs will increase immensely in order not to make the service worse. That is the first reason for the success of Zoom: The platform is able to manage large-scale virtual events in at least decent quality. This is important when it is not just about short conversations between two people, but about concerts with 500 spectators, business meetings, lectures lasting several hours, such as at the elite Harvard University or classes at that school in California, the Zoom Incidentally, you can use it for free. “Almost overnight, people found that they needed an offer like this,” Yuan said on a phone call to experts a few weeks ago.


Zoom creates decent quality virtual big events

The second reason for the success: Zoom follows the KISS principle that runs through the career of Apple founder Steve Jobs: “Keep It Simple, Stupid!” Zoom is easy to install and use, there is no frills except for the one that contributes to its popularity: people can choose from fun backgrounds, for example, and thus hide their own home when talking to colleagues. And there are filters like the social network Snapchat, which can also be used to remove wrinkles on the face. The participants therefore appear presentable without makeup or botox, and that seems to be important to many people. Better to be a “zoomer” than to be mocked by colleagues. The platform is suitable for the masses and equally attractive for boomers and zoomers.

The free version allows up to 100 participants for a maximum of 40 minutes, in China Zoom has already lifted the time limit due to the coronavirus crisis, in the USA for many schools, numerous universities and some companies. The luxury version for meetings with up to 1000 participants, unlimited storage in the data cloud and some other amenities for conference hosts costs $ 20 a month, and this raises a few concerns. And at that moment in the virtual classroom, when the teacher urges her student to be careful.

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A host can not only film and save the entire conference or have a transcript sent. There is also the option of “attention tracking”. If you activate this option, the teacher will be informed whether the students really have the zoom window in the foreground or whether they are playing games with the classmates in another window. This makes sense for the host – the teacher also monitors the students in live lessons; a manager wants all participants to be attentive at the meeting. On the other hand, the tracking has to be activated consciously by the host and is not really sophisticated: If you work in another window, you can also take notes or solve a task that the teacher is talking about. Therefore: Do participants have to be informed that the host has activated the feature and can they be reprimanded?

From the student party to the virtual manager meeting

These days, elements of digital coexistence are regulated, including legitimate questions, such as whether a manager can force you to use a particular platform just because it is easy to get around. Or questions about privacy: According to the terms of use, Zoom may use the data collected for targeted advertising; Google Ads is mentioned, but not Facebook, which, like the website reporter Motherboard have just found out about every zoom session started with iOS. The mobile operator, the location of the user and the advertising ID of the device are also transmitted. Just because.


“We are at a critical juncture,” CEO Yuan said a few weeks ago, and last Friday’s announcement sounds despite immense user growth (the company doesn’t release numbers itself, but the app is currently the most popular for both iPhone and iPhone) Android users) rather cautious: “Even if the usage has increased, it does not necessarily mean that the number of paying customers will increase. Any unfavorable perception, so if there are delays or interruptions due to the increased traffic, could have a negative impact on ours Impact reputation and thus on the ability to retain and win paying customers. “

Means: Zoom fears that the exploding number of users will lose its unique selling point, its reliability. It currently sees itself as a prisoner of its own success and wants to invest heavily in its infrastructure without knowing whether the current popularity is sustainable or only due to the corona virus crisis. Incidentally, the most popular app in the Indian app store after Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a curfew on 1.3 billion people is: Zoom.