While the corporate workforce and student exodus into home offices and living rooms around the globe has undoubtedly been a boon for videoconferencing service Zoom’s business, it’s having a pretty nasty side effect: a lot of problems actually using said service (or in the case of students, it seems, a lot of problems with the idea of using it). And customers on the Play Store are particularly upset, as 1-star review after 1-star review comes in complaining about connectivity, the very concept remote learning, and “Some ass app” (see below), wrecking Zoom’s previously stellar reputation.
Given Zoom is facing absolutely unprecedented demand for its service, none of this is surprising. Scaling a platform like this so quickly isn’t just a matter of optimizing software and network resources, it means adding actual, physical hardware capacity (whether for Zoom or through its web services provider) that can be difficult to do in a pinch. Zoom may have been better off rate-limiting new signups to the service during this time, but it was probably too afraid it would lose out to rival platforms like Microsoft Teams, Skype, Google Duo, Cisco Webex, and Hangouts Meet in doing so.
Zoom’s rating as of today (March 17, 2020)
The question that arises from all this is whether Google will issue some kind of reprieve from what is essentially a non-organized vote brigade against Zoom during an understandably very trying time for the company. Rivals like Microsoft Teams (4.5 stars) and Cisco Webex (4.5 stars) aren’t nearly as badly impacted, but I would argue that’s because they just aren’t marketed very much to consumers, educators, and small businesses, they’re far more corporate apps.
Zoom’s rating in better times (November 2019)
This just serves to highlight how totally crazy the impact of COVID-19 is on our society, from physically staying indoors to breaking the tools people are now relying on to stay connected. So far, the internet seems to be holding together, but in the coming days and weeks, it’s hard not to be a little anxious about what the added load could do to degrade other services, or the web at large. Let’s hope Zoom is the exception rather than the rule going ahead.
Curiously, Zoom’s iOS app remains at a strong 4.7 stars. That could mean the downvotes on Android are due to issues arising with the service that aren’t affecting iOS, or that Apple could have frozen Zoom’s rating after it saw a similar influx of negative reviews. Another possibility: this seemingly un-organized downvoting on Android actually is organized, and being done by students to attempt to get the app booted from the Play Store (as happened with an app in China).
Zoom’s rating on the Apple App Store remains high
Whatever’s going on here, Zoom probably isn’t super pleased.