Skype V/s Zoom: Why Skype lost
When Microsoft purchased Skype in May 2011 for 8.5 Billion they did not see the current WFH situation due to the corona virus, but it for sure did not see zoom coming in and taking 90% of their market away for which Skype stood its ground for the last 14 years.
2011 was the same year that Zoom and Snapchat were founded, and Apple launched the iPhone 4S. Skype had more than 100 million active users back then, and 8 million of those were paying to use the service to make and receive calls using the voice over internet protocol (VoIP).
With most organisations using and familiar with Microsoft Office, Skype would be the logical choice/ platform to opt in to for businesses.
To prove a marketeer’s point, Skype found itself out of sight, out of mind, replaced by an app half its age: Zoom.
Microsoft already had VoIP telecommunications software built into its programs, including Windows Live Messenger. Microsoft wanted to capture the essence through the acquisition of a very popular consumer product. Skype was cool, before Skype was a product.
When the buzz didn’t move over, Microsoft doubled down on trying to make it compete with everyday communication apps, while sacrificing the thing that made it most useful: reliable video calling. They did a redesign of the app and tried to make it a bit more sexy, young and fresh to compete with the WhatsApps and Telegrams of the world.
They even tried using “mojis”, Skype’s version of emojis and tired to steal the UI from snapchat. While playing catchup, the brand lost its way and didn’t focus on the core functionality – Ensuring the video call quality remained top notch.
By June 2017 the average app store rating for Skype dropped from 3.5 stars to 1.5 stars.
While Skype was trying to clean up its act, Zoom started adding relevant features and firming up the quality of calls to result in fewer dropped lines. Quality > Number of features
By July 2021, Microsoft wanted Skype to disappear and anyone wanting to make a business video call through Microsoft products will instead have to use Teams.
An April 2020 survey of 1,110 US companies by Creative Strategies showed that 27 per cent of businesses primarily used Zoom for video calls and meetings, compared to 18 per cent that used Teams, and 15 per cent that used Skype. Many companies had quietly moved over from Skype to Zoom in the intervening years as Skype added more and more features that didn’t fit the core functionality of the service: producing decent quality video calls.
And so…..when coronavirus hit, what in the first half of 2017 would have been a call to download Skype to keep in touch instead became a demand to download Zoom.
“Zoom has become the poster child for video conference, both from a consumer and corporate perspective. If you look at the strength of Skype and Teams combined, they should be the ones having the Zoom moment but they’re not.
It’s marketing, and a lot of people think of Skype as yesterday’s video calling.” That’s echoed in the news coverage of video conferencing: according to data compiled by Muck Rack, a website collating journalism produced around the world, between May 2019 and February 2020, Skype invested in media discussion around video conferencing. But when journalists started having to recommend software to use, they began mentioning Zoom more and more at the expense of Skype and other competitors. In March, Skype was mentioned in 51,000 articles, while Zoom gained mentions in 60,000 stories. By April, Skype remained the same, written about in 50,000 articles, while Zoom was included in 195,000 stories.
*FUCK YES MARKETING*
What went wrong for Skype, where Zoom picked up the pieces well:
a. Easy to install – Installing/ using zoom was easier than Skype by far. Onboarding is the biggest barrier to entry for apps. Zoom enabled a browser feature and acquired new customers easily.
b. No Bugs – Skype started having a lot of bugs to accommodate the new UI and features. Zoom, kept it simple and was bug free.
c. Spam – Remember secret texts and spams messages on Skype? Don’t want that anymore.
Common sense takes over and During Covid-19 we made the decision to switch to Zoom from Skype, as it offers us the features we’re looking for – reliable video calling.
From a business side, the companies that experienced quality issues with Skype in recent months, didn’t encounter them on Zoom. They also found that they were increasingly alone in using Skype. More and more of their clients are using Zoom, which means they already have the platform installed and are ready to go. And clients that don’t use Zoom have no issues connecting to the browser version.
Zoom has to now deal with security challenges, but that’s another problem altogether.
So what will be Skype’s legacy, What Happened to Skype? What will happen to Skype?
Having gone from being the go-to video conferencing app that has sat out the biggest potential use case for its product in human history?
As a fellow fanboy/ early adopter to what Skype was (ahead of its time), I’m still shaking my head thinking, how did they take one of the coolest hero products and turn it into a zero product and miss out on this opportunity.