When the pandemic first hit, millions were forced to start working from home. This meant that an internet platform was needed to ensure communication between large groups of people,  a platform that could be used for meetings between large groups of individuals, whether at school or at work. Pre-pandemic, the leading communications platform was Skype. Of course, other communication platforms such as Facetime and WhatsApp video exist, but these platforms allow for few members; Facetime allows for 32 members while WhatsApp allows for just eight. These platforms also only work for certain types of technologies such as Android or Apple. Clearly, a more efficient platform is needed.


Skype was first established in 2003. It proved a success – at one point it was used by 200 million people, and it gained the attention of multiple wealthy companies such as Microsoft and eBay.  By 2011, Microsoft had acquired the platform for $8.5 billion – but this partnership was not to last. In 2021, Microsoft announced that Skype for Business will no longer be available on their platform from July 31, 2021. The platform will be replaced by Microsoft Teams, which can be used for conference calls and screen sharing. So why has Skype lost its popularity and influence?


The answer is clear. It has refused to adapt its services and can no longer keep up with new technologies such as Zoom. The platform has barely changed since its creation in 2003; they don’t offer screen sharing and the platform is unusable for most new devices. Like the Blackberry in the world of smartphones, Skype has become irrelevant in a world where most people rely on their phones much more than their computers or iPads.


Although Zoom is not a particularly new platform (it was founded in 2011), it has grown in popularity during the pandemic. It offers several appealing features that benefit both students and office workers such as breakout rooms, a whiteboard, and the ability to screen share. More importantly, the platform, and all these services are free. While there is an option to pay for more features, such as a longer meeting time and the ability to add more participants, the free features are more than enough to ensure good quality meetings. The free service allows for up to 100 participants to join and for 40 minutes of meeting time, which is more than enough for the average company. There is also no maximum of meetings that you can set up in a day, allowing workers to be as efficient as possible by allowing them unlimited time to communicate with their co-workers.


Of course, Zoom is not perfect. It requires a Wi-Fi connection to work, and despite its high security, it is prone to hacking. Throughout my three months of online learning, three of my meetings were hacked; two of which the hacker impersonated a participant. Or zoom bombing can occur -  people that aren’t invited to the meeting are able to enter the call, despite the need for a username and password. You also need to download the app – you can’t access Zoom through Google or Safari.


Despite this, it seems that the benefits of Zoom outweigh its problems. Its features and the ability to work on all devices including phones, iPad, and computers means the platform is accessible and appealing to all. Such is the appeal of Zoom, that the platform is used for virtual political summits and court cases due to the platform being easy to use and accessible by all.


The start of the pandemic gave Skype the chance to modernize itself and be used as the main communication platform for millions. Sadly, it refused to seize this opportunity and the platform has slowly become irrelevant, even though virtual global communication has grown. As of today (6 January 2022), Skype’s net worth is around $3 billion, while Zoom currently has a net worth of $5.63 billion and growing.


There is no way that Skype will be able to overthrow Zoom as the leading communications platform. Right now, it is struggling to survive. The question is, what will Zoom’s next competition be? Will it continue to modernize itself or will it become the next Skype?