Working Around Zoom's Latest Time Limit for 1-to-1 Video Function

As a full time private tutor, I am very fortunate that I was not badly affected in 2020 during circuit breaker periods.  This was due to the rise of video conferencing tools such as Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ:ZM) that helped businesses and self-employed like myself having other alternative means to conduct my lessons at home, and hence allow me to continue to work and earn my keep.

Such video conferencing platforms are not new.  During pre-Covid times, one of the most widely used video conferencing platform was Skype, which was under Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT).  However, it has its limitations and functions more as a chatting tool than a teaching tool.  Other platforms available include Microsoft Teams and Google Meet (NASDAQ: GOOGL), both I have not used intensively before.  Hence, when I was first introduced to Zoom, despite being a total technology noob, I was forced to “master” the use of Zoom, and all its functions so that I can use it adequately to conduct lessons as effectively as when I was conducting the lesson face to face at student's residence.

In addition, Zoom's free 30-hour feature for 1-to-1 video conferencing is a huge plus point for me.  With limited income, I am always looking for ways to minimize operating expenses as a tutor (yes, please understand printing paper and printer ink cartridge do add up to be a rather substantial cost), as during pre-Covid times, I actually “import” printing paper, stationeries and ink cartridges from Malaysia.  Thus, having a free and effective platform was really a gift.  In these 2 years, Zoom has served me well as a reliable platform for teaching.  However, with the announcement of the shortening of the free time limit to a mere 40 minutes, that means the cheapo in me have to stop and restart the lesson, and get my students to re-enter the platform at least 3 times in a 1.5 to 2.0 hour lesson.  This is definitely disruptive, and perhaps I should dig in to their financials to see why this change is necessary for Zoom. 

Since hitting a high of USD 588.84 in October 2020, the share price of Zoom has been in a decline ever since. As of end of April 2022, its share price is only USD 99.57, representing a sharp decline of 83%! This also means its share price is back to pre-Covid times. I wonder what is happening to Zoom, hence I looked up the detailed analysis and explanation of its financial report by Moneyvesting. He mentioned that despite having good cashflow and relatively good earnings, its outlook is not rosy as the company is expecting a decline in its earnings per share (EPS) in 2023. I believe that is the main reason for the crash in share price as Zoom no longer has what it takes to be categorized as a growth stock with elevated metrics.

So, is this the main reason why Zoom decides to impose the 40-minute free 1-to-1 video conferencing duration, instead of the 30-hour free duration starting 1st May 2022, in a bid to improve their revenue?  I guess only the management knows the true reason behind it.  But for me, that is prompting me to move away from Zoom and revisit the other free platforms for me to conduct my online lessons.

1)    Skype

Free for 24 hours with up to 100 participants.  More suitable as a chatting or video conferencing platform.  Personally I feel that it is not suitable for teaching.

2)    Google Meet

Free for 60 minutes with up to 100 participants.  Free for 24 hours for 1-to-1.  Started to use it more frequently in place of Zoom.  It is easy to start as it can be accessed when one has a Gmail account.  No downloading of any app is required.  Trying to get used to the functions in the platform.  So far, I think its user friendliness is closest to Zoom, and rather easy to adapt to its features.

3)    Microsoft Teams

Free for 60 minutes with up to 100 participants.  Have yet to try it out.  Need to download its app before use.  That brought out the laziness in me.

Since it is just for online lessons, security and encryption of messages and file sharing is not as important as user friendliness of the platform.  For more details of the various platforms, do read up on this Betanews article.

Personally, with experience in using Zoom, Google Meet and Skype, I will rank Google Meet higher than Skype based on user friendliness experience.  And now with its 24-hour free 1-to-1 video conferencing feature here to stay (for now), Google Meet has overthrown Zoom to be the best platform for my work (because cheapo is my best attribute) for now.  Hence, all I can say is, bye to Zoom, and hello to Google Meet!  So, time to buy more Google shares now?  Barista FIRE, here I come...!

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