Since 2003, Skype has been the go-to application for video calling. It was so popular, it quickly transitioned from a software application to a verb – a true sign of brand success.
So at the start of 2020, when a worldwide pandemic forced the majority of workers to retreat from their offices and stay home, Skype was primed to be the go-to solution for businesses to carry on communicating with employees and clients.
But instead, when lockdown began, rather than “Skyp-ing” we were all suddenly “Zoom-ing” each other. Zoom, an app created eight years after Skype, emerged from relative obscurity to dominate coronavirus communications – both business and personal. From Monday morning meetings to Friday night quizzes with the family, it’s all been happening on Zoom.
So what happened to Skype?
Since 2011, Microsoft have owned Skype and an ill-fated redesign in June 2017 saw ratings of the app dramatically plummet. In the US, their Apple App Store rating dropped from 3.5 stars to just 1.5 while in the UK, the rating dropped to just 1 star.
The redesign included a range of features such as “mojis”, Skype’s iteration of emojis, as well as a raft of Snapchat inspired features such as the Highlight option. While adding additional features isn’t inherently bad, in this case, the developers neglected the main functionality of the app – high quality video calls.
By trying to make Skype more fun, sexy and young, they ignored their core users’ needs and gave them an experience they didn’t want.
Meanwhile, Zoom developers worked hard to ensure all features were relevant and focused on ensuring quality call connections – something Skype failed to do.
It’s also worth mentioning that many new Zoom users aren’t super tech-savvy and find comfort in a simple, easy to use application that works. Zoom offers a frictionless user experience, something that Skype can no longer guarantee.
From July 2021, Skype will disappear, and anyone wanting to make a business video call through Microsoft products will instead have to use Teams. Whereas Zoom reported a 169% year-on year sales increase in April, added over 180,000 new customers to its roster and turned a profit of $27m in the quarter – more than it made in all of the prior financial year.
Eric Yuan created Zoom because, frustrated with what was currently on the market, believed there was a demand in the business world for software that would work on mobile phones and be easier to use. Owing his interest in video conferencing to the long distances he had to travel to meet up with his now-wife in their youth – his company has never lost sight of their customers’ needs, which has resulted in a positive user experience that isn’t being matched anywhere else.