How Video Conferencing Apps Compete for Your Screen

Google Meet adds 49-person grid view to compete with Zoom and Microsoft Teams

Key Takeaways

  • One out of every four workers is remote.
  • Zoom has emerged as the platform of choice.
  • There are psychological factors to consider with online meetings.
Working at home having a video conference with colleagues
Jasmin Merdan / Getty Images

Like it or not, the virtual meeting is emerging as part of the new normal in American business. 

With one out of every four Americans working from home, the video meeting industry is in full competitive mode. Google Meet’s new 49-person grid view and background blurring features better position the company in its battle with rivals Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx, and Skype.

“Lockdown has shown that people can be effective working from home, so moving forward people will work in a hybrid environment,” said Mike McCarthy, VP at Starleaf in an email to Lifewire. “Some work will be done from home and reliable and secure virtual meetings are an essential part of this. People will still work from their offices, as social interaction is still very important, but the emphasis will be on virtual meetings.”

Hybrid Model Will Win Out

Neal Taparia, CEO at startup Solitaired, believes all future meetings will be influenced by videoconferencing.

“Every meeting will have a virtual element to it. Even when companies go back to their offices, they will still have remote employees. Hybrid meetings that are in person with virtual attendees will be the norm. This means companies will have to invest in the right technologies and learn how to conduct hybrid meetings,” he told Lifewire in an email.

Zoom on Top

All of these companies are in a fierce competition for video meetings. Zoom is the market leader, ranked No. 3 in the Google store download chart and No. 5 in the Apple Store download chart.

Zoom's Join a Meeting screen

Google Meet is in second place, followed by Microsoft Teams, Cisco’s Webex, then Skype, the pioneer in the field. Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams have all exceeded 100 million downloads, while Webex has exceeded 50 million downloads. 

Skype, which launched in 2010, has been downloaded more than one billion times.

Psychological Factors

Kelly Strain with Premiere Global Services in Georgia writes that there are four psychological findings we should consider before our next online meeting: 

  • Emotional displays are contagious; 
  • Taking turns speaking results in higher-quality online meetings; 
  • Poor audio quality causes physical stress; and 
  • People act differently when they’re being watched.

Platforms Add Features

As the competition heats up, the contenders are rolling out as many new features as their developers can muster.

Zoom, which faced a security crisis early in the pandemic, responded with a 90-day security pledge to freeze all updates except security. The effort resulted in Zoom 5.0, designed to address all security bug issues and strengthen the app’s end-to-end encryption algorithm. Google unveiled Google Meet Series One, which brings its AI-powered video calling to businesses in a partnership with Lenovo.

Webex, which used to be pay-only, now offers a free service for 50-minute meetings with as many as 100 participants. High-res video recordings can be saved to the cloud and longer meetings are available for monthly rates starting at $13.50. Skype released v8.64 this month, allowing you to customize the reaction picker and fixed some keyboard shortcut issues. 

Microsoft last week added built-in tools to tailor learning to student needs. With more than 230,000 educational institutions using Teams for remote and hybrid learning, Microsoft added Social-Emotional Learning-specific Praise Badges to recognize student social skills, grow emotional vocabulary, and give valuable recognition to the daily wins in their students’ learning.

Virtual Meetings Are a Life Raft

Barry Myers with Slingshot Events says virtual meetings have been a lifesaver for companies during the pandemic.

“Online meetings have saved the bacon for companies during the pandemic shutdown, as these have turned out to be an essential tool for keeping teams connected,” he said in an email to Lifewire.

“Virtual meetings are an extension of the benefits of the traditional phone call," Myers continued. "They eliminate the obstacles of geographic distance. They enable real-time engagement, making it efficient to have rich interactions. And they can largely be accomplished with the hardware, software, and network connections that are already in place at nearly every workplace.”

"Lockdown has shown that people can be effective working from home..."

Virtual meetings are here to stay. Companies realize the value of teleworking and remote opportunities for employees, whether fully remote or working in a hybrid model. When the pandemic is over, many companies say there will be a “new normal,” with remote work and virtual meetings as a centerpiece. With providers battling to be the virtual meeting platform of choice, the experience promises only to get better.