Facebook Rolls Out Video Chat Messenger Rooms To Beat Zoom And The Likes
- Facebook announced 50-person video chat rooms called Messenger rooms.
- Regardless of whether participants have a Facebook account, they can participate in the calls.
- Messenger Rooms are an answer to Zoom and Houseparty for Pandemic.
- Messenger Rooms will roll out this week in a few countries and the rest of the world next week including the U.S.
Video calling services have seen a sharp rise during the coronavirus crisis and the use of video calling on Facebook Messenger has doubled in the coronavirus affected areas. On Friday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivered a live stream to announce the company’s retooled video products for users to connect while at home under quarantine. The video update perfectly fits Facebook advertising plans that focus on e-commerce.
As many countries issued stay-at-home orders, rival apps Zoom witnessed a drastic growth in the active users to 300 million in April, and Houseparty, owned by Fortnite-maker Epic Games, was downloaded more than 2 million times in the start of March. Facebook has seen the success of Zoom, the video conferencing sites popular among the companies that have sent employees to work-from-home. The biggest product launch ‘Rooms’ will be created via Facebook Messenger which allows 50 people to hang out at a time. The company plans to add the feature to Instagram, Whatsapp and it’s portal-video calling devices soon.
Key features of Messenger Rooms:
- People will be able to keep their room private, block unwanted participants, and invite people who are not on Facebook.
- Participants can use AR filters and change the background real-time
- Discoverable rooms will be listed at the top of the feed.
However, messenger rooms are not end-to-end encrypted like Group Facetime or WhatsApp call. Stan Chudnovsky, VP of Messenger said on the blog,
Room calls are not end-to-end encrypted, but Facebook says it does not view or listen to calls. The creator of a room can remove participants at any time, and rooms where illicit behavior is taking place can be reported to Facebook. (WhatsApp video calls are end-to-end encrypted, offering an extra layer of protection to users.)
Summary of Other Updates from Facebook
- WhatsApp will accommodate from four to eight participants in the video group calls making it a suitable competitor to Zoom.
- Facebook Live and IGTV: Facebook is creating advertising that fits in this environment especially in the areas that are popular among consumers like home cooking, fitness, and others. It will be open for business and more e-commerce activities will take place. 800 million people watch live streaming on Facebook and Instagram.
- Donate Button on Live videos: This helps musicians, artists, people, and activists can raise funds for causes during the coronavirus outbreak.
- Live via Audio only: with more musicians doing live concerts on Facebook Live, you can listen in case you cannot watch it or want to save on data.
- Instagram Live On Web: You can watch live videos related to any activity or product from the desktop.
- Portal Live: One of Facebook’s hardware projects that have seen a slow adoption but with the COVID-19 crisis the sales increased tenfold. You can go to Live to the pages and Groups devices from Portal devices and can also create interactive content for customers and communities.
- Facebook Dating Video Chat: It is in the nascent dating service. Facebook dating is a virtual meet up and does a video chat with matches on Facebook first.
Facebook is going to report quarterly earnings next week and it has already said that the revenue has been negatively affected due to the coronavirus crisis as advertisers have pulled back on spending and online ad auction prices have been reduced. According to eMarketer Facebook ads and the amount it earns from each unit sold has decreased by nearly 50% in some categories.
Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst at eMarketer, in her note said,
“Those losses will be made up for by gains in categories that increased their use of Facebook advertising at the end of March, either to market products or services aimed at people staying at home, or to take advantage of drastically lower ad costs.”