Google Meet Sprints to Close Demand Gap in Race with Zoom

Ariel Ariel
2 minute read 9/29/23

This is a single insight from This Week in Apps - Time to Adapt. Check out the full article for more insights.

One of the most used features of Google Meet, in my experience, is the ability to blur the background. Not only is it useful to hide pretty much everything but the speaker, it also works pretty well across a variety of cameras and processors.

Which is why almost everyone I talk to on Meet uses the feature.

Why do I bring it up? Because Zoom has finally copied it!

Zoom has gotten a lot of updates over the last few years, as it transitioned from just another video conferencing app to the most popular video conferencing app everyone's mom is using. But this update, which in my opinion is more useful than many of the previous ones, didn't come until now.

Why now?

Looking at the trend of downloads for Zoom and comparing it with Google Meet the reason becomes very obvious.

Zoom has been losing downloads over time. And that was expected. Zoom saw so many downloads during the pandemic, not just from those needing it for work but also from those who needed it to replace real interactions. That trend is over now - and has been for quite a while, taking away the extra downloads Zoom got.

But that's only half the story - the other is the rise of Google Meet's downloads.

I compared downloads of Zoom and Google Meet on the App Store because Meet is pre-installed with some Android phones making the comparison a bit unfair.

Going back to 2022, Zoom was in a very different league than Google Meet when it comes to downloads. Zoom was seeing nearly 6x the downloads Meet was.

But the two trends were heading in opposite directions. Zoom's weekly downloads dropped by about 20% by the summer of 2022 while Meet's rose. By December the difference was less than 3x.

But Google Meet continued to grow, and in 2023 that happened even faster. Demand for Google Meet rose sharply in January, getting dangerously close to that of Zoom. Both in the millions.

Meets downloads fluctuated for most of the year, but around that mark, and now the gap between the two is just 1.2x. Yes! Zoom lost a 6x lead over the span of a little under two years.

Zoom's constant updates, which always seem to happen when I'm already late to meetings along with its bulkiness and disdain for a web-based interface (even though one exists) are starting to negatively outweigh the benefit of being able to video chat without needing a Google account.

How long do you think it has?

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