The long-running battle in the online office space has evolved over the past few months into a short-arms race. Zoom has risen rapidly since the massive spread of pneumonia in the United States in March, and has since come to a head over privacy concerns. Google has accelerated its product architecture reform plans, bringing together “video calls” and “office collaboration”, which were originally divided into two different business groups, into a system that is beginning to exert the power of “integration”. Facebook has also launched a group video feature, trying to add melee stoicism to the social areas it does best.
Among them, in the digital office field layout of the earliest, the most complete business of Microsoft, quickly launched a business “flash war.”
In March, Zoom, which had just swept the nation, was thrust into the limelight after a series of privacy concerns raised by a product design flaw. A malicious attacker can obtain a user’s room ID in some simple way, join and record video calls. At school, some students even use Zoom to spread pornography and extreme right-wing content.
In April, new York’s education authority issued a decree requiring teachers in the district to stop using Zoom for online instruction. Over the next month, Zoom stopped “expanding” and announced that it would focus on company-wide efforts to improve features in an effort to address previous security and privacy issues. On May 7, after a functional improvement, the New York Department of Education announced the “Unban Zoom”.
This month’s ban gives Microsoft a perfect “offensive window.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, after Zoom was banned in April, Microsoft quickly mobilized 50 employees to form a remote assistance team that would serve teachers in the New York school district around the clock to help them switch from Zoom to Teams, Microsoft’s online communications collaboration tool.
Microsoft has also accelerated the process of product iteration in response to the need for a “web lesson” scenario. An important reason teachers have used Zoom before is that Zoom’s video calling feature can show more people at the same time, as well as the “hands up” feature. Knowing the needs, Teams quickly developed both features and, in the first place, gave them exclusive priority to the faculty community in New York.
During the outbreak, Microsoft accelerated the iteration of Teams products.
In just one month, Microsoft has gained more than 110,000 users in its New York school district. And the net lesson is just one of the front lines of Microsoft Teams’ all-out attack. Jeff Teper, who is in charge of the product, says they have accelerated product development around the most important demand point during the “video conferencing” outbreak, adding real-time noise reduction and custom background.
In April, Teams’ daily live reach had grown to 75 million, double the number in March. Calls on Teams total more than 4.1 billion minutes per day.
In response to such a transcript, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella expressed great satisfaction and praised Teams for the importance of Microsoft’s future. In his blueprint, Microsoft will become a huge “operating system” across multiple hardware platforms, video calling, office collaboration, cloud services… will be part of this operating system.
In the months since the outbreak spread, several giants have joined the online office battle, and “video conferencing” has become one of the most important hot land. According to App Annie, total downloads of video calling apps have increased tenfold from 5 million per week to 50 million since Last October.
In the face of rapidly expanding demand, The number of Daily Live Users of Zoom has increased 30-fold from 10 million at the end of last year to 300 million. Google Meet, which is free to all users during the outbreak, has also grown 30 times in the past six months, to more than 100 million daily lives.
Full-scale war on b-side operations
For Microsoft, product and user activity data is important, but more important is how to turn products, users into valuable “business.”
Microsoft’s biggest product advantage is not one of the software or features, but the entire Office 365 office suite. This suite includes office software with a long history of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and a new generation of online services, including Teams and OneDrive. Earlier this year, when Jeff Teper was appointed head of teams products by Nadella, Nadella made it clear that he wanted him to strengthen the integration of Teams and more Microsoft office products.
So Microsoft is targeting the pan-B-side market where companies and schools have more ability to pay.
Microsoft sent a team to full-service New York schools because the New York school district is already a customer of Office 365. In March, Microsoft also partnered with the NFL Nfl Professional Football League to help the NFL use teams for the 2020 rookie draft.
Microsoft understands that only by quickly integrating as many features as possible into Office can it better retain those enterprise customers. When such a complete set of software takes root in the office, it will be difficult for enterprises to migrate from Microsoft to other platforms. “Our users want to be able to chat, talk, and collaborate remotely in one place without having to put Slack, Zoom, Dropbox, Google together,” Jared Spataro, Microsoft’s vice president for Office 365, told the Wall Street Journal. This one-product experience that includes all the features is the greatest value of Office. “
Such a strategy does work. A number of large companies and schools, including General Electric and L’Oreal, have become customers of Teams.
With the development of Internet technology, the demand for online office software is growing.
In 2016, the first target product for Teams was Slack, once the most famous startup in online collaboration. Its core feature is chat communication, but it brings together many third-party cloud services, including Dropbox, Google Drive, project progress management software like Trello, and Code Hosting platform Github.
In 2015, Microsoft made an offer to Slack, but it was turned down. A year later, Microsoft released Teams, drawing on a number of Slack’s design ideas and has many of the same features, such as Slack’s core “consolidated third-party services” feature. This allows many older Microsoft customers to switch from Slack to Teams with relative ease.
Microsoft, which has worked in the enterprise space for many years, understands the needs of the enterprise better than Slack, and it integrates more of the security features that businesses need in Teams. Previously, businesses might have required themselves to manually connect these features to Slack, but now Teams has come with them.
At the same time, Microsoft launched its own strong sales team, launching a fierce sales offensive against The Teams’ potential customers. According to the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft’s sales representatives even offered to pay users millions of dollars for platform migration when they lobbied customers.
In 2018, Microsoft acquired Github and continued to build on its corporate business matrix. In July 2019, shortly after Slack went public, Teams announced that its platform had more than 13 million live users a day, up from 10 million at the time.
Teams completed a “bend overtaking.”
Chess meets the opponent, each other to copy
From Slack to Zoom, Teams’s journey has been like a “pass rush.”
When Microsoft targets an adversary, it will rely on rapid product iterations, a huge service platform, a strong sales system, straight into the rival’s business hinterland, in the fierce competition to succeed. This strategy has been criticized by some, some public opinion accused Microsoft of imitating the competition function, through the platform’s mass advantage to suffocate opponents, and even think that this practice has a monopoly.
But it’s also Microsoft’s most powerful inside job.
Since the 1990s, Microsoft has been “evergreen” in the technology sector and has long been at the top of the corporate market value list. It is the third company in history to break the trillion-dollar market capitalisation and has alternated with Apple over the past year as the “world’s largest company by market capitalisation”. Last October, Microsoft beat amazon,stake in Amazon, IBM and several other rivals to bid for the U.S. Department of Defense’s cloud computing transformation project, in a $10 billion order alone.
It created the most successful software ever sold, Windows. Entering the Internet age, it began to deeply cultivate the enterprise and cloud services market, with strong cash flow and business moat seeking development as a benchmark. A Microsoft product, a business may fail, but Microsoft’s tree has always stood.
With Zoom as an opponent, Microsoft has a lot more to do.
For Teams, Zoom is a harder challenger than Slack. Because Zoom is growing faster, cash flow is healthier. According to Zoom’s just-released first-quarter 2020 results, quarterly revenue is up 169 percent from a year earlier. What’s more, Zoom maintained a high gross margin of 68.4 percent despite the increase in operating costs during the outbreak. And Zoom is winning over more corporate users, with 265,400 teams and businesses buying paid services for “more than 10 employees” at Zoom, up 354 percent from the same period last year.
Teams’ rivalry with Zoom is far from over. Only this time, as Teams tried to penetrate Zoom’s heartland, its opponents were entering its core territory.