Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, TrustRadius has been monitoring where buyer interest rose and fell for key software categories. In early March, we weren’t certain about the impact the pandemic would have on our market, or which software industries would be the proverbial winners and losers. Based on the software industry statistics we’ve been gathering, the impact has now become clear.
The web and video conferencing software category has seen tremendous growth since the beginning of this year. Large and small companies alike have scrambled to outfit their workforce with video conferencing tools and other essential WFH tech. For one popular product, Zoom, this has resulted in an increase of daily active users by 2,900% from 10 million to 300 million in the span of 4 months.
On TrustRadius, the web and video conferencing category has seen a 500% increase in buyer activity since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. According to our poll of over 2,000 business software users, 67% of companies that are increasing their spending plan to invest in web conferencing software.
However, TrustRadius and third-party data now confirm that we’ve passed the point of ‘peak interest’ for web conferencing software.
Below, we offer both a historical and real-time view of web and video conferencing software, including the most popular products and product comparisons today, crucial business insights, and the latest news.
Web Conferencing Software: A Year in Review
According to data from TrustRadius and Google Trends, the web and video conferencing software category has seen staggering growth in buyer interest since January 2020. On average, buyers spent anywhere from 3 to 6.5 minutes evaluating video conferencing tech prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The biggest change we’ve seen was a massive increase in the number of buyers evaluating video conferencing tools. Average time on page for the web conferencing category during this time also increased to a high of nearly 14 minutes, but will likely settle back down between 3-6 minutes in the following months.
Product comparisons have earned some of the highest average time on page. Between April 2019 – April 2020, these were the three most popular web conferencing comparisons made on TrustRadius platform:
- Microsoft Teams vs. Zoom (avg. time on page of 36 minutes)
- Cisco Webex Meetings vs. Zoom (avg. time on page of 26.5 minutes)
- Google Classroom vs. Zoom (avg. time on page of 9 minutes)
One key takeaway from this data is that interest in the web and video conferencing category on TrustRadius peaked at the end of March and has been falling ever since.
This trend is confirmed by publicly available information from Google Trends. The graph below displays interest in the ‘Web Conferencing’ topic from April 2019 – April 2020, with a visibly sharp spike in interest during the last week of March that starts declining afterwards.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Web and Video Conferencing Tech
As the graphs above show, interest in video conferencing technology has exploded over the past few months. On TrustRadius, we saw this category grow by 120% from January to February and increase 1080% from February to March.
Traffic numbers for the web conferencing category are still much higher than they were before the pandemic. But interest in this type of software peaked at the beginning of April and has been declining since then.
At the global level, world-wide interest in web and video conferencing software shot up drastically in March, with specific countries (like India) seeing hot spots appearing in April.
India, the red line in the chart below, hit its web conferencing software peak later than the three other countries included in the graph.
India’s national lockdown was announced at the end of March, similarly to other countries and some US states. Thus a more compelling reason for this spike in activity may be the Indian government’s push for a national competition to develop an Indian-based video conferencing solution. The competition was announced in the first half of April with the goal of creating a web conferencing tool that can compete with the likes of Zoom, Cisco Webex, and Microsoft Teams.
Overall, buyer interest in video conferencing technology around the world is declining, including in countries like India that hit their peak later.
Important note: The graph above shows significantly higher volumes in the United States, and this is merely a reflection of relative traffic to TrustRadius. While a large portion of TrustRadius traffic is made up of US-based users, this does not mean that video conferencing tech is necessarily more popular in the US than other countries around the world. Rather, this graph is a better reflection of the relative popularity of web conferencing tools over time, within specific countries.
The same pattern is clear for the US as well. For the top 5 states with the highest amount of buyer activity (CA, TX, NY, VA, and FL), there was a giant increase in the number of software buyers researching these tools through the end of March. However, the number of buyers researching web conferencing technology has been decreasing for all states since the beginning of April.
To help explain the decreasing interest, it’s useful to think about when most businesses and schools started searching for web conferencing software. While many organizations were still looking for the right video conferencing solution in March, it’s likely that most businesses and education institutions had selected a software to use by April. Companies and schools alike needed a fast solution to help them deal with the rapidly changing environment brought on by COVID-19.
This explanation is strengthened by findings from TrustRadius research on the state of software spending during the pandemic. As of March 19th, 40% of buyers said they expect software spending to increase. However, this number dropped to 15% by the first week of April.
Data collected from 2,168 respondents from 4/9-4/10 by email survey to TrustRadius database of software buyers and users
The Most Popular Web Conferencing Tools Today
Even though momentum for the web conferencing category as a whole has slowed down, specific products are still attracting a lot of attention.
During the week of April 18th – April 25th, 10 different products received 85% of the traffic directed at all web conferencing products on TrustRadius. Zoom led the pack, earning 40% of buyer interest during this week, followed by Cisco Webex (12%) and BlueJeans (8%).
Zoom’s stock price has shot up 80% over the past year, from 79.18USD on May 3rd, 2019 to 143.44 USD on May 4th, 2020. This, along with the 28 percentage-point gap between buyers evaluating Zoom and Cisco Webex on TrustRadius, illustrates how strong a hold Zoom has on the market.
Zoom’s mindshare is even more clear when looking at the top 10 web conferencing product comparisons made on TrustRadius. 8 out of 10 comparisons are between Zoom and another product. The chart below shows the most frequently compared video conferencing products on TrustRadius, with Cisco Webex Meetings vs. Zoom receiving the highest percentage of traffic (35%).
While Zoom has a large amount of market-share right now, other video conferencing companies have made big moves in response. For example, Google is now offering their online meetings solution Google Meet for free. Cisco has added functionality to their free tier of Webex Meetings, including raising the limit to 100 participants, eliminating time limits on meetings, and allowing an unlimited number of meetings. In comparison, the free version of Zoom limits group meetings to 40 minutes.
On the one hand, both Google and Cisco are responding to the needs of the market during the COVID-19 pandemic. But these movements are also clearly meant to help them stay competitive as Zoom’s popularity and usage grows.
How Reviewers are using Web Conferencing Tools Today
Web conferencing tools are now integrated into everyday life for businesses of all sizes, schools, and higher education institutions. While there have been some hiccups along the way (‘Zoom bombing’ comes to mind), video conferencing software has had a positive impact on the daily life of many users.
Though COVID-19 has caused chaos and disruption across the world, some TrustRadius community members have posted reviews describing how web conferencing technology has helped them navigate their new environment. Their testimonials speak to the power these tools have to unite workforces, classrooms, and teams of all sizes during a time of crisis.
[Review text bolded for emphasis]
For this reviewer, Zoom has allowed their college to continue providing quality education to students during the COVID-19 pandemic:
“Zoom was previously used within our IT department on a small scale, however, now during this emergency situation of the coronavirus, now our institution policy is shifted to distance learning. Our students are now attending classes remotely from home and Zoom is widely used to deliver the best education for them.”
—John W. | IT administrator | Information Technology & Services | 51-200 employees
BlueJeans was the platform of choice for another user, who notes that it has become even more essential for their company during these times:
“BlueJeans has been used by our organisation for the past few years and we’ve found it to be a fully stable environment to hold multi-user conferences. It has become even more vital in the time of COVID and we continue to rely on it as our preferred platform.”
—Verified User | Director in Product Management | Information Technology & Services | 11-50 employees
While the following reviewer has been using Cisco Webex Meetings for two years now, usage has increased dramatically within their company over the past few weeks:
“Two year ago, we started work with Webex, but users couldn’t use this tool because my users did not have the culture of using video conferencing. With the events of Covid-19, users realized that it is a platform that they can discuss quickly and easily and started using Webex. Currently, Webex is used on average between 18-22 hours a day and is gradually increasing. Users have now started to use different features such as recording and webinar.”
—Verified User | Manager in Information Technology | Construction Company | 5001-10,000 employees
For this user, Microsoft Teams has become the primary collaboration tool at their company:
“Microsoft Teams is the main collaboration tool across our entire organization. A lot of users had received a crash course in its use because of working from home due to the COVID-19 quarantines but many have stated that they are very pleased with the ease of use and ability to connect with remote co-workers. We have even used it to set up a “water cooler” team just to be able to chit chat with other office workers.”
—Michael E. | Network Systems Analyst | Wholesale | 1001-5000 employees
Web and Video Conferencing in the News
As we continue to watch the web and video conferencing market grow, some products will undoubtedly continue to gain more market share. Here are seven market developments to keep an eye on:
- Techcrunch reports that Google Meet, the video conferencing solution from Google, is now free for all.
- According to The Wall Street Journal, Zoom has chosen Oracle to expand their cloud platform, in part due to the security and scalability Oracle can provide.
- From CNBC—after experiencing incredible growth and then a host of security issues, Zoom is pausing work on new and existing features in favor of making security improvements.
- Business Insider reports that Verizon has acquired BlueJeans to help expand their offerings for enterprise businesses.
- A recent report from Forbes states that Microsoft Teams, one of Zoom’s largest competitors, has also been experiencing password-related security issues.
- TechRepublic confirms that Large Companies and Organizations have begun banning the use of Zoom – including Google, NASA, US Senate, Australian Defense Forces, SpaceX, the government of Taiwan, etc.
- According to Business Insider, after months of increased growth, the next mountain video conferencing companies will need to climb is finding a way to convert new free users into subscribers.
The Future of Web Conferencing Software
Over the next few months, we estimate that the market will experience a proliferation of smaller video conferencing tools. Data from the TrustRadius platform shows that interest in smaller players like Intermedia AnyMeeting, Click Meeting, and ConnectWise Control grew over 400% as a response to the pandemic. This shows that web conferencing is a category ripe for expansion, and smaller players like Namaste, Facebook Rooms, and Houseparty are already rushing in to grab their share.
Alternatively, the market could see consolidation around key vendors in the industry. With established companies like Verizon acquiring smaller solutions like BlueJeans, other companies like Google, Cisco, Microsoft, and Zoom may decide to follow suit. This would allow them to expand and enhance their current video conferencing offering, as well as increase their user-base.
Looking forward, it’s not clear whether the increased usage and adoption of web conferencing tools will be the death knell for the business travel industry, even after the pandemic is resolved and travel is an option. Will businesses decide to save on costly business travel and host or attend ‘virtual conferences’ instead? How will hotels, airline companies, conference venues, and business travel technology be impacted in the long-run?
Some predict that business travel will never be the same again. There are also those who believe the business travel industry will bounce back, rather than be forever diminished by the sudden popularity of video conferencing technology.
TrustRadius will continue to watch the web conferencing software industry, including surging products, spending trends, and key industry developments over the next few months. We’re already following the release of RingCentral’s video conferencing solution in early April and Verizon’s acquisition of BlueJeans, and will continue to publish insights as they develop.
In addition to this research, we provide category-level and product-level intent data for software vendors who want to keep a pulse on the market. Right now we’re offering 30 days of free True Intent data to all qualified vendors. It’s one of many ways we’re working to help the tech industry overcome the challenges of COVID-19. Learn more here.