Google launches Zoom competitor in coronavirus pandemic by making Meet video conferencing app free

The offer brings new competition to video conferencing app Zoom

Google's video conference app, Google Meet, will be available to anyone with an email address free of charge starting in May, the company announced Wednesday.

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The offer brings new competition to video conferencing app Zoom, which saw its stock fall Wednesday after three months of sharp growth as the coronavirus pandemic prompted people to start working and connecting via online meeting apps from home.

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"We believe that the more we do from home, the more we do to help," Javier Soltero, vice president of Google's app toolkit "G Suite," said Wednesday on "Varney & Co."

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
GOOGLALPHABET INC.1,430.14-20.95-1.44%
ZMZOOM VIDEO COMMUNICATIONS INC.468.47+29.74+6.78%

Zoom reached 300 million active daily video participants on April 23, whereas Google Meet's userbase surpassed 100 million active daily users in the same month, and the company is adding about 3 million new users every day, Soltero said in a Wednesday blog post.

Google Meet telehealth call / Google blog

"We've been bringing this product to millions of business customers ... since 2017, and the growth we've seen over the past three months has been incredible in response to all these companies moving their workforces to working from home and being distributed, and so we've really been invested recently in making the product better and available to everyone," Soltero told FOX Business' Susan Li.

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Google has "invested years in making Meet a secure and reliable video conferencing app solution that's trusted by schools, governments and enterprises around the world," Soltero said in the blog post. His comments highlight Google Meet's commitment to security while Zoom works to earn back users' trust after tech researchers and media exposed privacy flaws.

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Meet, which previously cost users $6 per month for its "basic" plan subscription that came with access to a number of other G-Suite apps, will now be free for anyone who signs up with an email address with Google's Gmail app.

Google Meet call / Google blog

More than 6 million businesses and organizations and 120 million students and teachers currently use G Suite. Those who are already subscribed to the app will be able to enable meet at no cost, Soltero said.

"We've had a lot of this technology around for a long time. ... The important thing now across every sector of life, whether it's personal things, education or the workplace, we've now established that we can actually do a lot more than we previously thought without sitting necessarily right across from each other," Soltero told Lee.

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Zoom outpaces Google, however, in terms of the number of participants who can be on any given call. While 16 users can be displayed on a single screen using Google Meet, 49 users can be on a single screen using Zoom. Up to 250 people can participate in a Meet call while up to 500 can participate on a Zoom call using the app's Large Meeting add-on feature.

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Zoom also recently hired Lea Kissner, Google's former global lead of privacy technology, as a security consultant to help address the app's vulnerabilities.