When the pandemic hit the world, everyone HAD to stay home. No matter who you were, how old you are, or what you did for a living, we were all confined to our homes (with exception of some frontline workers, of course). When human beings are such social creatures, how do we survive such isolation? This is where video calling services come in.
Skype has been dominating the arena for years, so the mainstream video service for the pandemic will obviously be Skype, right? Wrong! Surprisingly, as the lockdowns progressed, ‘skyping’ wasn’t really being said as much but rather, ‘Zooming’ began to gain speed. Zoom effectively took the crown that had been with Skype for over a decade, seemingly overnight. How did this happen and why did we choose an app that appeared overnight over something that we’ve already tried and tested? 🤔
When we observe this change on a surface level, it really is mind-boggling. Cost-wise, Skype has the upper hand with lower prices for both businesses as well as the average Joe. The free versions of both services also gave Skype an upper hand with unlimited time for their video calls, whether one-on-one or group, whereas Zoom only provides this for a one-on-one call.
Not to mention, the seemingly overnight shift in user-base made people understandably curious as to how this even occurred. But a closer look at this issue gives us a glaringly obvious answer to this phenomenon. 🧐
Where It All Began
Let’s go back to 2011. Microsoft had just acquired Skype for $8.5 Billion in cash, right at its peak. The service was so popular that three years later the word “Skype” had been registered as a verb in the Merriam Webster Dictionary. 🤓
Microsoft’s plans for the service included a gradual take over of communication services as a whole, trying to make Skype the new WhatsApp or Telegram- which were applications also thriving during this time.
However, they focused so much on these new services that they neglected the application’s core service- the video communication! 🤦♀️ When the app is unable to have a strong core service as its foundation, it’s no surprise that people eventually moved to other options.
As Skype kept adding undesirable features, its competitors slowly gained market share as Skype’s own shares were in decline. Apps like Zoom were able to strengthen their own platform and keep their users loyal to their service. The nail on the coffin came when Microsoft announced ‘Microsoft Teams’, which aimed at their business users, neglecting the glaring issues of Skype. And in 2017 they announced their plans to expand to the rest of the market, trying to acquire the general public as its user-base.
Instead of listening to their consumer complaints, they revamped the entire software instead, bringing a new layout and introducing those god-awful Emojis. 🤢 Their basic service had bugs, ‘outages’ that caused the app to not work for long periods of time, an extremely high call drop rate, and the spam you were greeted with when opening the app was a horrible experience. 😩 It got so bad that the rating on the app store dropped from a 3.5-star average to 1.5 stars, forcing Microsoft to issue an apology addressing their issues. The apology stated:
“No matter how quickly we were able to resolve this issue, it would not have been quick enough. We know many of you needed to use Skype during the outage, and finding that you couldn’t would have been incredibly frustrating.
We are extremely sorry for any inconvenience caused to our users, and appreciate your patience while we addressed the issue.
So why Zoom?
Zoom was able to acquire steam because they were able to learn from the mistakes Skype made. They do not have any bugs, there isn’t any spam and the call drop rates are significantly lower. They are also extremely user-friendly, as those who aren’t as tech-savvy find it easy to use the service. 😌 Not everyone needs to install the application or even create the account- only the host does. The simple and sleek interface along with their ability to listen to their consumer base made them the new kings of this service-based industry. Businesses had long already shifted their application of choice from Skype to Zoom much before the pandemic hit as their clientele preferred something that would work over a buggy app.
As a desperate last-ditch attempt, Skype recently put out a post reminding people that no application or account was needed to use the service, a recently added change- but it was all too late. People are now ‘Zooming’ and skype’s return to the top is unlikely. 👋
On July 31st, Microsoft announced that by July 2021, Skype will no longer exist as they shift all their operations to Microsoft Teams; a sad demise to a once-thriving app, leaving a great legacy as an innovator of this industry behind. 😔
The pandemic was only a catalyst, not the cause of the shift. This was a 3 year-long process of errors and a yesteryear approach to handling the app and maintaining market share which ultimately caused the demise of Skype and a brand new top dog, Zoom. 🥰
Written and Researched by Nikita Jacob