One of the biggest names in videoconferencing is stepping up in a big way in the face of the outbreak of the coronavirus, with Zoom CEO Eric Yuan saying he’s removing the time limit on the company’s free video chat service for K-12 schools in Japan, Italy and the U.S.
Zoom also had lifted the time limit on free video chats in China and other countries as the coronavirus continues its worldwide outbreak.
As you might expect with increased restrictions on large or even small gatherings around the world amid the coronavirus outbreak, the Zoom app has been more popular than ever. A recent Forbes report says 343,000 people globally downloaded it, compared to 90,000 two months ago.
Here’s how Zoom’s free video chat for K-12 students and teachers will work, according to Forbes:
Students or teachers who fill out an online form using their school email addresses and are then verified by Zoom will have any accounts associated with that school’s domain also gain unlimited temporary meeting minutes, according to a site set up for the process overnight.
The free Basic accounts are also available by request in Austria, Denmark, France, Ireland, Poland, Romania and South Korea, a spokesperson for Zoom said.
“Given that many K-12 schools are starting closing, we decided to offer Zoom access to all K-12 schools in the country starting tomorrow,” Yuan wrote in an email overnight.
Previously, Zoom was joined by Google, BlueJeans and LogMeIn as videoconferencing companies that are making their services available free to businesses during the worldwide pandemic. I’m guessing the idea in this case is to entice these users with their trials to eventually become long-time customers.
Cynics, though, might wonder if paying customers that have been loyal to these companies will wonder how they can get the same deal for themselves that Zoom and others are giving to everyone who needs it during this unique situation thanks to the coronavirus.
Surely, these companies haven’t become successful without thinking first about their customers and we’re sure that’ll be the case here too.