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Zoom Video Communications was founded in 2011. The company brings high quality video meetings to everyone via their service, zoom.us available over iPhone and iPad or via Windows or Mac. Walt Mossberg, in the Wall Street Journal wrote, “My verdict is that zoom.us is a very good product with lots of practical uses.”
In this edition of Developing Minds Want to Know, we talk to Nick Chong, Head of Product for Zoom Video Communications about how the company created zoom.us, where he sees innovation in the mobile sector, how he harnesses innovation and what the future holds.
Key Compay Facts:
Name and Title: Nick Chong, Head of Product
Company: Zoom Video Communications (http://zoom.us)
Location: Santa Clara, CA
Size (Revenue and/or Employees): 39 employees
Primary Apps/Platforms: zoom.us for iOS, PC and Mac, Android coming soon
APPOLICIOUS: What inspired you to become an app creator?
NICK CHONG: With the broader adoption of mobile devices, apps have become the centerpiece of our vision, enabling us to provide high quality video conversations and screen sharing to everyone. We wanted to bring face-to-face video conversation for groups to mobile.
Here’s a video from Walt Mossberg from The Wall Street Journal featuring zoom.us:
APPO: How long have you been developing apps, and what is the most significant difference between now and when you began?
NC: We’ve been building apps for quite some time now, but we started creating the zoom.us mobile app about a year ago. For this particular app, we wanted to focus on ease of use and making the experience cross-platform. Most app developers now focus on two things – simplicity and virality. The assumption is that if it is simple, it would go viral. While this is somewhat true, easy content sharing apps tend to go viral faster and are becoming increasingly more powerful. We opted to bring real-time content sharing to mobile via our iOS apps.
APPO: What apps (outside of those that you develop) inspire you the most and why?
NC: We love Dropbox and Evernote because they are simple, high-quality and functional, qualities we value. We also like the virality of both apps – it’s fun to witness how much users love them and what they’re sharing with others about the experience.
APPO: Where do you see the most innovation in the app sector?
NC: While consumer gaming apps will continue to drive innovative user experience, productivity apps like zoom.us will unlock new communication methods across the mobile world. In the communications area, we see the following innovation trends happening:
- enhanced real-time video communications over 3G, 4G/LTE
- advanced quality of service technology ensuring traffic prioritization
- dynamic video and audio optimization over high loss networks
- cross platform detection and multi-rate controls
APPO: How do you harness that innovation in your own titles?
NC: We continue to drive innovative video, audio and screen sharing technologies to our mobile apps and advanced real-time communications infrastructure in the backend. We do this to ensure that the user experience stays simple and high-quality across platforms and networks.
For example, from the quality perspective, we automatically adjust your video resolutions to match your device, network and system performance. We developed a quality of service layer to dynamically adapt to real-time bandwidth changes. In terms of simplicity, we dynamically switch your video view to picture the active speaker and we allow the user to "spotlight" an attendee.
APPO: In such a crowded space, explain how you generate awareness and drive downloads to your applications.
NC: We rely on word of mouth marketing as our app inherently generates awareness: you invite people to join a group conversation and the attendees can invite others (of course, if they enjoy the app). We focus our attention on ensuring the attendees have a terrific experience as they are key to promoting awareness.
APPO: What are the biggest technical constraints that exist today in the app sector?
NC: For most apps, system performance is always the first constraint, followed by battery duration. For us, network bandwidth also plays a big role as we rely on the network for real-time communications.
Historically, system performance and battery duration are easier to overcome as the manufacturer has control over these areas and promote them as part of the device upgrade. Network performance upgrades depend on service providers and tend to take much longer. As more real-time applications like gaming and video become app-enabled, we hope these technical constraints will become a thing of the past.
APPO: How do you (or will you) make money from your application?
NC: We will announce our monetization plans in the near future. Our goal is to always have a free version available on every platform we support.
APPO: What advice do you have to those working on their first applications?
NC: Timing is everything. Plan your launch carefully and make sure you understand the iOS or Android developer programming requirements very well. There are new requirements that have come along and longstanding requirements that may have changed. It’s important for newcomers in the app developer space to be prepared and thoroughly plan ahead.
APPO: Where do you see the app sector one year from now? Five years from now?
NC: The app sector will be the largest software segment when Windows 8 is released this fall. Developers will have to work harder as we will have to support iOS, Android, Windows Mobile and of course, their different variants and versions.
Five years from now, we see apps getting lighter, faster and ubiquitous on any device (the internet of things). That's when the fun starts!