Earlier this month, Zoom proudly announced via a blog post that it has surpassed the 300 million daily active users (DAU), crowing that “more than 300 million people around the world are using Zoom during this challenging time.” It was an impressive figure for a company that is challenging the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Facebook for dominance in the video conferencing sector.
But as it turns out, that number was bogus, and Zoom tried to quietly walk back the 300 million DAU figure by removing it from the original blog post. The only problem, however, is that the tally had already been widely reported, and The Verge noticed that the blog had been updated to remove references to DAU and instead replaced it with "meeting participants". Zoom then provided the following statement when asked for comment:
We are humbled and proud to help over 300 million daily meeting participants stay connected during this pandemic. In a blog post on April 22, we unintentionally referred to these participants as “users” and “people.” When we realized this error, we adjusted the wording to “participants.” This was a genuine oversight on our part.
In practice, the difference between DAU and meeting participants can be quite staggering. If we’re talking daily active users, it would have meant that more than 300 million unique individuals were using the service each day. However, by changing the wording to meeting participants, Zoom can count multiple sessions by a single individual during the day, which inflates the user count. So, one person hopping in on four separate Zoom calls during the day would count as four participants.
To put those figures in perspective, Google Meet has recently touted 100 million daily participants, while Microsoft Teams has seen its numbers top 200 million daily participants in April. In its fiscal year Q3 earnings report this week, Microsoft also claimed that it has a DAU tally of 75 million for Microsoft Teams. Given that Zoom has not provided the public with a DAU figure (other than the now retracted 300 million count), we have no direct way of comparing its performance on this specific front with Microsoft or Google.
With that being said, Zoom has taken steps to fix some if its privacy and security missteps in the past with the 5.0 update that was released last week. Some of the changes included are AES 256-bit GCM encryption, waiting rooms that are turned on by default, and easier to manage security features that are grouped together under the Security icon on the meeting menu bar.
Zoom’s competitors, however, aren’t standing still. Google this week announced that Google Meet is now free to everyone, instead of being part of the paid G Suite productivity solution for enterprise and educational customers. And Facebook recently launched Messenger Rooms which supports chats with up to 50 people.