Over the past two years, Zoom has evolved into a video juggernaut, introducing features and leapfrogging its services to keep up with the demands of remote work and now hybrid work. One of the difficulties of a video calling solution is navigating the hybrid ecosystems that we have become accustomed to in recent years. Today, more than ever, people are moving through multiple hybrid ecosystems, be it at work, school or play.
This hybrid trend makes interoperability between solutions and applications a must for video calling solutions like Zoom. While Zoom has done a commendable job of making its service interoperable with Zoom apps, the next step is to put that power in the hands of developers.
Zoom announced the general availability of the Zoom Apps Software Development Kit (SDK), which allows developers to build their apps within the Zoom ecosystem. Let’s dive into Zoom’s new Apps SDK and what Zoom is doing to promote its app marketplace. Net-net is another step in Zoom’s “platformization”.
Zoom App SDK
Zoom launched its Zoom Apps almost a year ago. The premise behind the Zoom implementation of apps within the Zoom ecosystem is that users do not have to leave Zoom to interact with apps outside of Zoom. There’s no reason to leave if the app is already in the Zoom App Marketplace. To date, Zoom developers have released over 100 Zoom apps, and the Zoom App SDK offers developers and companies the opportunity to develop more Zoom apps.
So far, I like Zoom’s approach to the Zoom app experience. It could have announced the Zoom App SDK to launch the Zoom Apps. His decision to control the first hundred Zoom apps and then introduce them to developers was strategic. It gave Zoom a chance to figure out what should be included in the SDK and gave developers an idea of what an app with Zoom might look like based on the first hundred apps. It had to prove to the developers that it could be done in a way that didn’t add complexity to the basic video experience.
While applications may seem like a small feature to add to a video calling solution, it could create an ecosystem around Zoom where the Zoom platform is the central traffic medium for app interactions. For example, a school can conduct online testing via a Zoom meeting. Instead of going through an external party, testing is facilitated with the AI app via the Zoom platform. Similarly, a company can automate workflows or allow everyone on the call to interact with a campaign using the same app that would be used outside of the video call. That would save time and be more efficient.
The Zoom App Marketplace
Zoom also facilitates app discovery with the App Marketplace, allowing users to search for apps within the marketplace. According to Zoom, it will include a list of available apps and app details, adding them during a meeting. This could be useful for many business, school, and casual call use cases. For example, a casual conversation between two people could turn into a competitive gaming session after searching the app marketplace for games and finding a suitable game in the marketplace.
I believe if Zoom is able to manage and grow the app marketplace well, it could make Zoom a truly interoperable collaborative OS in the video calling space. It’s difficult as Microsoft, Google, and even Salesforce move into the platform space.
Zoom’s roadmap for building an app makes it easy to publish an app on the marketplace. Developers create the app, fill out a submission checklist, submit it for review, and then publish the app to the marketplace where it’s available to all users. In the past, I’ve had concerns about Zoom’s ability to release new features and fix issues later, leading to zero-day security vulnerabilities and other alarming issues. However, I believe Zoom has made a complete 180 since then. It’s strategically building its ecosystem of developers and building an app marketplace that could thrive. Given Zoom’s position at the forefront of all video calling solutions, I believe its marketplace could be a success.
I think Zoom has strategically grown its app marketplace and is trying to evolve into a platform. Zoom seems to be successful with its first hundred apps and has strategically taken the time to release the App SDK for developers. It had to make the first 100 to show the developers how it can and should be done.
This is a big second step in Zoom’s “platformization.”
Note: The Moor Insights & Strategy Co-op Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.
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