Zoom Chat update takes vendor further beyond video

Zoom has launched a Zoom Chat update that demonstrates the video-conferencing vendor’s ambition to become a one-stop shop for business communications.

Zoom has made the Chat messaging app suitable for a broader range of collaboration scenarios. The more extensive capabilities bolster the product’s role in the vendor’s portfolio, which also includes the expanding cloud calling service, Zoom Phone.

The two products, combined with the vendor’s flagship video conferencing service, show that Zoom wants to become an all-in-one UC provider.

However, to reach its goal, Zoom still has to catch up with rivals. The updates to Zoom Chat unveiled this week underscore that the product remains far behind leading messaging apps with regards to features and integrations.

Zoom added support for reply threads and emoji reactions. The former is an essential tool for keeping messaging channels organized. The app also now gives users the ability to send notifications to everyone in a channel, and for admins to use channels to make announcements.

Users’ profiles are another new feature, showing each employee’s location, department and job title. Colleagues can link to those profiles by tagging their coworker in a message using “@.”

These are standard features that leading apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams have long supported. Nevertheless, by steadily adding features, Zoom is making its portfolio more attractive to businesses that want to buy communications services from a single vendor, analysts said.

Zoom is trying to get businesses to use more of its products by encouraging its video customers to adopt Zoom Phone. But more aggressively pushing Zoom Chat would bring the vendor into conflict with Slack, a close partner. That’s a scenario Zoom executives previously said they wanted to avoid.

“A Zoom Chat app, integrated with Phone and Meetings, makes a great deal of sense,” said Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes Research. “I think it will be interesting to see how aggressive Zoom is in the next year with adding features and integrations to its own chat app.”

Zoom is now a telephony service provider in six countries through Zoom Phone, with a beta service available in 11 additional locations. Outside of those countries, businesses can power Zoom Phone using third-party telephony services.

At Zoomtopia 2019, the vendor’s annual user conference in October, CEO Eric Yuan said Zoom Phone was raising Zoom Chat’s profile within the portfolio. 

“The more we focus on voice, we need chat,” Yuan said at the time. “As we sell more and more phone systems, I think chat will be key for us as well.”

Meanwhile, Zoom on Thursday delivered a better-than-expected earnings report for the quarter, bringing in $166 million in the three months ended Oct. 31. Valued at roughly $19 billion, Zoom now expects to generate revenue between $609 million and $610 million in the year.

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