Zoom’s Security Challenges
The undisputed winner, in terms of name recognition and likely usage, of the remote working/learning situation is Zoom. Influential venture capitalists, and CEO, and more are all tweeting about Zoom, brands are sharing images to be used as Zoom backgrounds as marketing.
People all over are sharing images and stories of teachers and all educators doing Zoom’s with their students to stay in touch and teach remotely. Like I said, in terms of mentions in public as well as the public’s mind, if you were to ask them who is winning video conferencing, most would likely say Zoom.
Zoom is a solid product. It is arguably the easiest platform to get set up, use, and start video conferencing. It is also highly reliable in terms of video quality and audio quality. We had known for a while that Zoom was spreading like wildfire because of its ease of use. It was continually being adopted by users for a variety of reasons.
Zoom has also been crushing it from a stock perspective. It is currently trading at a P/E of just over 1600. There is debate about whether Zoom is over-valued, and its a good debate, but you can’t argue Zoom becoming the generic face of video conferencing during this period of quarantine is not valuable and will not do wonders for their continued growth.
But, it is not all good news for Zoom as some security and privacy concerns are now starting to gain headlines. It was reported last week that Zoom was sending data to Facebook when their customers choose the log-in with a Facebook option, which should not be a shocker to anyone who looked into how the log-in with Facebook SDK was working. The fascinating question is, why did Zoom even offer log-in with Facebook to begin with? I’ll hit on that in a moment.
Zoom has since plugged that hole, and did so quickly, also releasing a blog post on the matter.
More recently, today, an article came out today looking at the lack of true end-to-end encryption on Zoom calls.
While I do, perhaps naively but I do, take Zoom at their word that they are not spying on customers or actively selling their data, I do think Zoom’s growth strategy, or land and expand as its called in the business, was developed with a much more consumer-friendly attitude than an enterprise-friendly attitude. What I mean by that is Zoom took a bottoms-up approach that focused on making things dead simple for the end-user and through that process got adopted into enterprises with a less than thorough security and privacy approach. Now, for a lot of businesses and institutions, that may not matter. I’m sure educators, colleges, many SMBs, and even plenty of large enterprises are not trading in deep secrets and are ok taking Zoom at their word they aren’t spying or selling data. However, there are also plenty of organizations like Governments, global tech companies, perhaps medical and healthcare, and others who will simply not use Zoom because of security and privacy concerns.
I’m not worried about Zoom even with these security and privacy reports. I say that knowing full well that without standard security and entrenched encryption in place they will not land certain customers, but the market is big enough for all the players now seeing tremendous growth like Microsoft with Teams (they need to kill skype), Cisco with WebEx, Google Hangouts/Meet, etc.
Zoom’s lesson is that a user-focused approach where ease of use is central is the quickest way to land and expand your customer base. But, the lesson is also to consider how much of a pure enterprise company you want to be as you start. Zoom, I think, also wants a pure consumer play, and because of that, there will be some tradeoffs they will make.
PC Hardware Surges
In a turn of events, no one saw coming, nor could have predicted, the PC ecosystem is surging. At a time when smartphone demand is at an absolute abysmal low, the good old PC and its ecosystem of monitors, mice, keyboards, and other accessories (beauty lights and external cameras) are surging.
I first got wind of this weeks ago when talking with those in the PC supply chain and then double confirmed it with the PC OEMs we work with. All of them are seeing a surge of demand as corporations are refreshing machines quicker than normal to get employees the hardware they need to
Further confirmation came from our friendly NPD analyst Stephen Baker who published a brief report today highlighting surging sales they see from retail and B2B resellers they track.
So why is this interesting? When we step back and look at the big picture and the potential trends and market place changes, knowing that PC demand and a flurry of work from home accessories are surging, it emphasizes the point that more corporations and individuals will have adequate hardware solutions in place to embrace more remote working as needed or demanded.
Once companies make this shift, as they are forced to know, there will be new processes and new comfort levels of the business and its employees. I’ve long said that people should not have to come to the office every day, and or they should be able to live where they want and still be an integral part of their team. What we are witnessing right now is going to make this possible.
There are so many positives that come out of this reality. Not only killing traffic in metro areas but cutting down on pollution, companies not needing as much real-estate, the development of other areas and city economies not located on the coasts, etc.
The other thing I’m wondering is if people are starting to build new habits with their PCs again now that they are being used for more than just work at a workplace but also at home and in kid’s education. This is purely a hypothesis to watch I’m pointing out, but we know smartphones were stealing tasks from PCs on the homefront, and I wonder if now PCs will start to steal some time back going forward.